Off-street car parking

Off-street car parking, which includes parking at workplaces and supermarkets, is regulated by planning policy


Off-street car parking, which includes parking at workplaces and supermarkets, is regulated by planning policy. Policies may state maximum and/or minimum numbers of car parking spaces required for different types of development. There is more information about planning in the linking up land use and transport section. There is also some information in the parking controls section above that can apply to off-street car parks.

Planning policy around car parking has changed recently. The National Planning Policy Framework now states:

“39. If setting local parking standards for residential and non-residential development, local planning authorities should take into account:
• the accessibility of the development;
• the type, mix and use of development;
• the availability of and opportunities for public transport;
• local car ownership levels; and
• an overall need to reduce the use of high-emission vehicles.”

It’s worth looking at your local plan to see what it says and trying to influence it. According to recent research, setting maximum levels of car parking spaces is a very important way to influence travel patterns - Department for Transport Maximum parking Standards. It’s particularly important to have lower parking standards in areas near to public transport or where people could walk and cycle for many of their trips. And don’t forget the potential of car clubs, which are likely to be more successful where overall parking is limited, to reduce the need for car parking spaces in future.

Further information for residential areas, particularly for new developments, can be found in this report: Residential Car Parking Guidance (2012). It is also worth thinking about the potential for car free developments, which are increasingly common on the continent though less so here. Such developments:

  • provide a motor traffic-free immediate environment
  • are designed to facilitate travel by sustainable means (which may include car clubs)
  • if any car parking is included, it is limited and separated from the immediate residential area.

More information is available from Carfree UK.

Another means to influence off street non-residential car parking is through a Workplace Parking Levy. This means the owners of car parking spaces have to pay an annual fee, which they can decide whether or not to pass on to staff. Nottingham introduced a levy of £288 per space in 2012, which it is using to fund major public transport improvements, including new tram lines.

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