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Parking Standards in South East England

Parking Standards in South East England

This regional policy study aimed at determining maximum parking standards in the South East region of England. It was commissioned by the Government Office for the South East (GOSE) and completed in 1998. The key authors were Tim Pharoah (of Llewelyn Davies) and Keith Buchan (of MTRU).

Up until this time, parking standards for new developments were almost universally expressed as minimum levels of provision for a given floor area of development. This policy led to urban development becoming progressively more encouraging of car travel, and progressively damaging to travel by less damaging modes. The problems could be summarised as:

  • Induced traffic (due to more parking capacity)
  • Induced car ownership
  • Social exclusion
  • Wasted land and poor townscape
  • Worse public transport
  • Poorer walking and cycling environments

The study was commissioned in the context of a national planning policy framework that aimed to reduce car dependency, boost the role of town centres, and restrict car-based out-of-town developments. This policy was represented in particular by two national guidance documents: PPG13 Transport (1994) and PPG6 Town centres (1996).

Planning Mister Richard Caborn at the time said that regional guidance "should give advice on parking, including a strategic approach to off-street parking standards".

Three things became clear:

  1. The minimum standards parking policy was working against the urban policy objectives;
  2. Local authorities would not act alone to limit parking provision, for fear of losing investment to other authorites;
  3. Restraining parking provision in town centres only would not alter the trend of investment shifting to out-of-town locations.

The recommended approach to determining appropriate levels of parking provision (within a defined maximum amount) was an amalgam of:

  • Location
  • Accessibility (by non-care modes)
  • Type of development

The amount of parking would be an output of the analysis, not an input to the development format.

Study conclusions in brief:

  1. The practice of minimum parking standards was in need of urgent reform;
  2. There was a need for a national and regional framework of maximum levels of parking in new non-residential development;
  3. The maximum levels of provision should be below the level of expressed demand;
  4. The policy should contain complementary measures for improving access by non-car modes;
  5. The policy should be advocated in a way that sends a clear message to the development industry that car-based solutions are unacceptable.

The final report (pre-publication version) is available to the right, together with a parking matrix, developed within the study (and published as part of Chapter 6) to assist in determining appropriate standards in different contexts.

Client(s)Government Office for the South East; Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions
Team(s)Tim Pharoah (project manager) with others from Llewelyn Davies, and JMP


Parking policy, parking standards, minimum parking standards, parking, south east England, planning policy, sustainable transport