Parking Standards

This measure was fully updated by THE URBAN PLANNING INSTITUTE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SLOVENIA (UIRS) in 2014 under the CH4LLENGE project, financed by the European Commission.


Parking standards are the norms related to the amount of parking that is required, or permitted, for new developments of all types within the land use planning system. (A new development means, here, a new or modified building or a collection of new/modified buildings in a neighbourhood.)  Parking standards specify the minimum and (sometimes) maximum number of parking spaces required or permitted for particular types of new development. The number of spaces permitted or required in new developments varies according to the land use.  The amount of parking required/permitted is often stipulated by individual local authorities and therefore varies from local area to local area, although this depends very much on the national context. For example, in Britain during the 2000s, the national government stipulated the maximum parking standards that all local authorities were required to apply for larger developments.  In Spain and Germany, parking standards are set as minima at the Autonomous Region and Land level, respectively – so at a higher level of government than the municipality.

As with parking controls and pricing, parking standards are applied to meet demand and regulate supply to influence demand. Additionally, parking spaces take up land, so reducing parking capacity may reduce land take. The most common reason for applying parking standards is to limit the impact of overspill parking onto streets surrounding the development.  There are a number of approaches to the setting of parking standards.

Demand impacts from limiting the amount of parking permitted with new developments may not be significant in the short term, but may be so over time. It should also be noted that not all impacts are positive. Maximum parking standards may increase the amount of lift-giving and therefore vehicle km travelled.  There is also considerable debate as to how far a restraint-based approach to parking standards may impact on inward investment in an area; anecdotally, local authorities often fear that this will occur, but finding evidence that it actually does so is more difficult.  Minimum standards may make the redevelopment of small constrained brownfield sites extremely difficult, because there is simply no way to access any parking, or space to build it on.

Terminology

Parking standards are the controls applied to the amount of parking permitted or required in new developments. Parking standards are usually set by local authorities to specify the minimum and (less commonly) maximum number of spaces permitted for particular types of new development. The number of spaces permitted in new developments varies between land uses and local authorities, unless parking standards are the responsibility of a higher level of government, as in Spain and Germany, for example.

Approaches to setting Parking Standards

As with parking controls and pricing, parking standards are applied to meet demand and regulate supply to influence demand. There are a number of approaches to the setting of parking standards. These are outlined in Potter (2001) and set out below.

The Demand Standards Approach
As with provision of road space, PNR parking standards have in the past been set to meet all demand. However, changes in PNR parking standards (from generous minimum requirements to restrictive maximum provision) reflect those applied to road space. PNR standards now limit supply to regulate traffic levels and control congestion, pollution and other negative impacts of traffic and road infrastructure provision. Nevertheless, in areas where such negative impacts are minimal, public transport is inadequate, or there is a desire to attract car borne visitors (either from competing areas or to aid regeneration) parking standards may remain at levels that will meet actual and expected growth in demand.

The Two-part and Operational Standards Approach
Where congestion is a problem local authorities have sought to reduce the volume of parking to an operational (minimal) level. A balance is provided as public off-site space through a commuted payment from the developer. Developers make commuted payments to local authorities when the parking provided at a new development is below the number of spaces specified for the size of development. However, this approach has not been universally successful, as it can be unpopular with developers. A more recent practice is to seek commuted payments for public transport provision or park and ride, rather than public parking.  The parking standards law in North Rhine Westphalia in Germany permits this, for example.

The Capacity Rationing Approach
Under this approach, parking standards in an area, or along a corridor (serving a new development) are determined according to the road capacity available for newly generated traffic. This approach overcomes the first come, first served nature of some other parking standards, which may become more restrictive once a certain volume have been reached.

The Area Needs Approach

This is a common approach, although the exact criteria are rarely set down. Standards, as the name suggests, are set to meet the (competing) needs of the area. Criteria can include:

  • Parking controls and management of public spaces, both on and off-street, plus anticipated changes in these,
  • Environmental and traffic planning policies,
  • Site constraints and design considerations,
  • Public transport availability,
  • Economic and competition considerations.

The Modal Split Target Approach
This approach seeks to make modes other than the car relatively more attractive by making parking more difficult. Thus, parking standards may be set below the operational (minimum) level. As the need to reduce the negative impacts of car use grows, this approach becomes more important. However, for single developments or areas such as business parks, parking standards may be used together with incentives to use non-car modes in the form of a travel plan or mobility management plan that incorporates modal split targets.   A good example is Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, UK (see EPOMM, 2014).  Guidance on setting mode share targets is available in DfT (2009).

The Public Transport Accessibility Level approach

In this approach, parking standards are linked to public transport accessibility levels.  Parking standards are set to meet demand from car journeys that could not be undertaken by public transport, or at least in relation to accessibility by public transport, with more generous standards in areas with lower public transport accessibility.  This approach requires some form of GIS analysis to determine accessibility levels, for example using the UK software Accession.  The London Plan (the land use plan for London (see Mayor of London (2008)) has different maximum parking standards for areas with differing public transport accessibility.

As the need to manage demand to mitigate the negative impacts of car travel grows, the importance of parking standards also grows. Controversy around such standards also grows in tandem, as restrictive standards can be unpopular with developers. This can encourage developers to move elsewhere, leading to competition between local authorities to set more generous parking standards than their neighbours. Whilst there is often disagreement between developers and local authorities, all those involved, including national retailers, see a need to reform the setting of parking standards (in the UK at least) (Potter, 2001) to reduce the variability between different authority areas. Potter (2001) cites the fundamental requirements for setting parking standards as:

  • Standards should be part of a wider parking strategy,
  • Firm regional guidance (in the face of competition),
  • Fairness and consistency of application,
  • Transparency, simplicity and user friendly derivation,
  • Realism and achievability,
  • Local flexibility to cater for regeneration for example,
  • Defensibility at public inquiry.

These standards have been incorporated within the UK Governments’ Planning Policy Guidance Note on transport (PPG13), revised in 2001. This can be found at http://www.planning.odpm.gov.uk/ppg/ppg13/

Why introduce Parking Standards? 
Demand impacts
Short and long run demand responses 
Supply impacts
Maximum Parking Standards 
Financing requirements 
Expected impact on key policy objectives
Expected impact on problems
Expected winners and losers
Barriers to implementation

Why introduce Parking Standards?

Parking standards are set by local authorities to control the amount of new PNR parking in their jurisdiction. There are a number of approaches to setting parking standards, but they generally seek to either meet all actual (and sometimes anticipated) demand for PNR parking or manage travel demand through PNR parking availability. Additionally, parking spaces take up land, so reducing parking capacity may reduce land take.

Demand impacts

In most countries where parking standards are used, there is evidence to suggest that they are set mainly to meet expected demand, and that this has been overestimated in many cases.  Excess provision is caused by a quite simplistic approach to calculating requirements: they are set around the 85th percentile of the maximum peak traffic generation of the land use type.  This can mean that for example for shops, the parking capacity provided will only be used for a few hours on each of four or five days per year.  Thurén (2012) conducted an empirical study in Sweden where he observed peak occupancy in 47 residential car parks in various suburbs of the city of Lund, and the city centre.  All of these car parks had a maximum occupancy of 60% or less and the total area unused was about 50,000 square metres, which was land that Thuren calculated could accommodate around 2,000  flats.
It is also still quite rare to find, outside of the denser areas of the largest cities, combined parking in developments of mixed use, so instead parking is additive for each land use within the mixed use development, rather than shared and taking advantage of the fact that peak demand occurs at different times for, say, a cinema compared to a supermarket.  Shoup (2006, 2014) has written extensively about the over-provision of parking space caused by “predict and provide” based parking standards in the US, but much of what he has written is also relevant to other parts of the world.
Litman (2006) cites a number of examples of the effects of maximum and minimum parking standards, originally found in K.T. Analytics (1995)

  • In Portland Oregon, public transport use for trips to the city centre rose from 20-25% of all trips in the early 1970s to 48% in the mid-1990s.  The City Council believes that this is due to a cap on the total number of off-street parking spaces allowed in the city centre – originally set at 44,000 in the 1970s, this has increased slightly since, but still acts to dampen demand for car travel.
  • The City of San Francisco has a policy called “Transit [Public Transport] First”, which permits parking to account for a maximum of 7% of a building’s gross floor area.  In addition, new buildings can only be occupied once they have submitted, and had approved, a parking plan. This means that different buildings will have a different mix of short term, long term and carpool parking.  The policy is believed to have kept car use for commuting in San Francisco constant in spite of a growth in office accommodation.
  • In 1977, Boston capped the amount of city centre commercial parking open to the public, but private non-residential parking in offices was permitted to increase, which it did, by 26% between 1984 and 1987 alone.  Traffic levels on major roads into the city were observed to increase significantly over that period.

Responses and situations

Response

Reduction in road traffic

Expected in situations

 

Some drivers may leave home earlier to get a parking space where they are allocated on a first come, first served basis, but this will cause peak spreading, not a reduction on vehicle kilometres.

 

Unlikely to lead directly to a change in route.

 

The degree to which restraint-based parking standards cause people to seek destinations with more parking depends significantly on the quality and other attributes of the destination with less parking, and on its accessibility by other modes.

 

Restrictive standards may cause drivers to suppress non-essential trips or utilise alternatives to travel, but one alternative mode may be to get a lift, which can increase vehicle km and total number of trips.

 

Restrictive standards will cause modal shift where alternative modes are available and there is no other place to park near the destination (so for example such standards will only have the intended effect if nearby streets have controls, or are already full).

 

There is evidence that people living in areas with lower parking availability have lower car ownership than people of equivalent socio economic status living in areas with plentiful parking (from PPG13 2001, cited by Palmer, 2010).

 

DfT research cited by Palmer (2010) found that 29% of people who can currently park outside their home said that if they could not, they would move.
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Short and long run demand responses

Demand responses

Response

-

1st year

2-4 years

5 years

10+ years

 

 

 

Change job location

-

Shop elsewhere

 

Compress working week*

-

Trip chain

-

Work from home

-

Shop from home

 

Ride share

-

Public transport

-

Walk/cycle

 

-

 

-

= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

*Where restrictive maximum standards mean that supply of parking does not meet demand at a place of employment, employees may respond by compressing their working week, to reduce the hassle of parking. This may be especially so where near by public parking (both on and off street) is also scarce, and/or expensive.

Supply impacts

As discussed above, there is evidence that minimum parking standards can lead to overprovision of parking.  In Great Britain, central government planning advice first recommended that local authorities set maximum instead of minimum parking standards in 1994.  The reason for this was to influence how people travelled to the development – as a way of tackling (projected) growth in traffic and congestion.  Some local authorities, such as Boroughs in London, and the City of Nottingham, for example, had had maximum standards from earlier than this.  However, many authorities were reluctant to follow central government advice and apply maximum standards in their area for fear that this would deter inward investment, and that development would instead move to a nearby council area with minimum standards.  To tackle this fear, in 2001 the English government introduced mandatory national maximum parking standards, followed by the Scottish government two years later.  These applied only to larger developments (which meant that many local authorities maintained a dual system of minima for smaller developments and maxima for larger developments (Rye, 2006)).  In 2010, these national standards ceased to be mandatory in England, due to a view in the government department managing them that they had a negative effect on economic growth.  The evidence for this view is discussed in “Evidence on Performance”, below.  Note that national maximum standards for residential (an average of 1.5 spaces per dwelling) were also in force in England for a shorter time; these were removed due to car ownership in many households being much higher than this.

A comparison of restraint-based parking standards – spaces per sq metre of building floor area

Use

English National Maximum Standard 2001
(figures in brackets shown smallest development to which standard applies)

Maximum standards, Den Haag, 2004, outer suburbs (stricter standards applied in inner suburbs and city centre)

Swiss national parking standards (municipalities can set more restraint-based standards if they wish)

Food retail

1 per 14m2 (1000m2)

1 per 70m2

1 per 10m2

Non food retail

1 per 20m2 (1000m2)

1 per 90m2

1 per 10m2 to 1 per 20m2

Cinemas and conference facilities

1 per 5 seats (1000m2)

1 per 112m2

1 per 5 seats

Other leisure

1 per 22m2 (1000m2)

1 per 415m2

1 per 5 seats

Offices, light industry

1 per 30m2 (2500m2)

1 per 275m2

1 per 33m2

Higher and further education

1 per 2 staff  (2500m2)
+ 1 per 15 students

1 per 40m2

1 per 2.5 students

Stadia

1 per 15 seats
(1500 seats)

1 per 8 seats

1 per 8 seats

Source: PPG13, 2001; Swiss Association of Road and Transportation Experts, n.d.; City of The Hague, 2004.

Financing requirements

Parking standards themselves do not require any financial commitments on the part of the local authority. However, in some cities and countries, commuted payments are permitted.  This means that instead of (or sometimes as well as) building parking spaces with a new development, the developer pays a sum per parking space not constructed to the local authority.  Umeå in Sweden, North Rhine Westphalia in Germany, and many UK cities have such a system.  Den Haag in the Netherlands has a system whereby more parking spaces may be built in certain cases, if the developer makes a commuted payment. The sums below are from the City of York in the UK.  In Umeå the commuted sum per space is around €12,000.

Cars

Business

£3000 per space

 

Retail

£5000 per space

Cycles

 

£100 per space for uncovered spaces

   

£500 per space for covered spaces

The system in North Rhine Westphalia is such that it can only be applied where the location of the site makes it impossible to build car parking on or near the site.  The money used from commuted payments is generally used to improve accessibility to the site by non-car modes.

Expected impact on key policy objectives

Assessments of impacts on key policy objectives are made on the basis of parking standards that restrict the supply of parking below what would otherwise be demanded.

Contribution to objectives

Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

 

Reductions in congestion will improve efficiency.

 

Reductions in car traffic will contribute positively towards liveable streets, but the greatest impacts may not be in residential areas.

 

Reductions in car traffic will contribute positively towards livable streets, but the greatest impacts may not be in residential areas.  Depending on how streets are designed and parking enforced, restrictive residential standards may reduce liveability as drivers seek to park wherever they can as close as possible to their home.

 

Those who continue to driver and non-car users will benefit from reductions in congestion (and possibly improved services if there is sufficient modal shift to warrant changes). However, those who would previously have had the perk of private parking get less net benefit.

 

Reductions in car use will help to reduce road accidents.

 

Improvements in efficiency will contribute positively towards economic growth.

 

No financial commitments are required.

= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Expected impact on problems

Assessments of impacts in terms of alleviation of key problems are made on the basis of parking standards that follow planning guidance to restrict supply of PNR parking.

Contribution to alleviation of key problems

Problem

Scale of contribution

Comment

Congestion

Where alternatives to car use making modal shift feasible. Where this is not the case, congestion will either be severe as a result of traffic searching for a parking space, or congestion will shift to an alternative destination.

Community impacts

Many positive impacts on congestion, pollution, placemaking and potentially local economies also.  Enables redevelopment of buildings in locations where parking cannot be provided.

Environmental damage

Limiting parking provision will reduce land take and traffic impact on environmentally sensitive sites.  Reductions in traffic levels and congestion will reduce pollution.

Poor accessibility

Reduction in congestion could improve accessibility as could investment in park and ride, but if maximum parking standards are implemented in areas with poor public transport accessibility, then this could cause difficulties.

Social and geographical disadvantage

 Those people with a car in areas with poor alternatives to the car may suffer. 

Accidents

Reduced traffic levels will reduce the accident risk.

Economic growth

Reduced congestion will make the area more attractive, although restrictive parking standards may make an area unattractive if standards in neighbouring areas allow more parking.

= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Expected winners and losers

Winners and losers

Group

Winners / losers

Comment

Large scale freight and commercial traffic

No impact on this group.

Small businesses

If they require operational parking or are a business with many visitors, maximum parking standards could affect their business negatively.

High income car-users

Benefit because they can pay to buy off-street parking at market rates and because they enjoy reduced congestion.

Low income car-users with poor access to public transport

May marginally reduce their access to jobs, goods and services if use of maximum parking standards leads to widespread charging for off-street PNR parking.

All existing public transport users

Will benefit from reduced traffic levels.

All existing public transport users

Public transport will benefits from reduced congestion and potentially improved services where demand increases sufficiently to warrant this.

People living adjacent to the area targeted

May experience negative effects on local environment and their own ability to park if there is overspill parking from areas subject to max parking standards.

Cyclists including children

Will benefit from reduced traffic levels.

People at higher risk of health problems exacerbated by poor air quality

No particular impact.

People making high value, important journeys

Benefit because they can pay to buy off-street parking at market rates and because they enjoy reduced congestion.

People making high value, important journeys

Benefits from reduced congestion if s/he continues to drive.  Loses if parking charges are brought in due to shortage of parking.

= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Barriers to implementation

Scale of barriers

Barrier

Scale

Comment

Legal

Considerable legal barriers exist in many countries to applying maximum parking standards, because standards are set in law by a higher level of government  Examples include Spain, Germany, Slovenia.

Finance

There are no financial barriers to the use of this measure.

Governance

Governance issues arise if parking standards are the responsibility of more than one level of government.  There are also governance conflicts if the application of parking standards is the responsibility of a land use planning department of a municipality, but the department with most interest in them is the transport department.

Political acceptability

Maximum standards for retail and employment uses may face problems of political acceptability where politicians have experience, or have heard anecdotal evidence, of developers threatening to move to other municipalities if not granted sufficient parking.  Public acceptability issues  (below) may also generate problems of political acceptability.

Public and stakeholder acceptability

Depending on the non-car accessibility of a housing area and their lifestyle, some residents may find it difficult to live in residential areas with restrained parking.  They may complain and also park wherever they can, leading to conflicts with other residents.  The application of maximum parking standards and with them charging led to problems of acceptability at some hospitals in the UK during the 2000s.

Technical feasibility

There are no technical barriers to the use of this measure.

= Minimal barrier = Most significant barrier

There is relatively little evidence on the performance of parking standards as a transport policy instrument.  This is partly because the effect of changing them – for example, from minimum to maximum standards - is felt over time, as only a small proportion of land is redeveloped each year.  Here, some case studies of the performance of maximum parking standards are presented.


DfT (2002) Making Travel Plans Work

This document reviewed the impacts on travel to work by car of travel plans (workplace mobility management) at some 38 different employment locations throughout Britain.  One of its conclusions was that parking management was “the hallmark of high-achieving travel plans”.  Whilst the average reduction in cars arriving at the workplace per 100 employees brought about by the travel plans at all sites in the study was 14%, this rose to 18% if only those sites with some form of parking management were considered.  Parking management is of course not always the result of maximum parking standards, but they had been applied in many of the cases in this report, and they often create the need for parking management, because there is insufficient parking to meet the full demand for spaces.  This was recognised in Rye et al (2013), who cite the results of a survey of local authority transport planners, 46% of whom felt that maximum parking standards had at least some effect on the adoption of travel plans in new developments, and 30% felt that they had a strong effect.

Contribution to objectives
Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

Reduced congestion will improve efficiency

Improved liveability as long as parking restraint on development site does not lead to overspill parking

Reduced pollution and congestion will improve the environment

All travellers will benefit from reduced congestion, but those who would have benefited from a parking space if less restrictive standards had been applied will be penalised. 

Reduced congestion will improve safety

Reduced congestion will improve efficiency which, in conjunction with environmental improvements, should attract inward investment. However potential perceptions of an access problem due to lack of parking could reduce future investment.

Providing fewer parking spaces reduces the cost of development.  Building with fewer parking spaces can help to create a denser less car dependent environment.  People in less car dependent cities spend a smaller proportion of their income on travel than those in car dependent cities.

= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Various residential developments in north west European cities

ITDP (2012) reviewed seven “low car” residential developments in the UK, Netherlands, Sweden and Germany.  The most well-known of these is Freiburg’s Vauban neighbourhood. These developments are all located in inner urban areas, are relatively high density and attempt to be “sustainable” in a number of ways (not just in terms of transport).  Several were the result of initiatives by groups of like-minded people who had a vision of a different kind of urban living that they wanted to realise – and the importance of such visionary drive should not be underestimated in the process of actually bringing about some of these developments.  The parking standard varied between 1.1 per dwelling in Houten, Netherlands, to 0.22 in the GWL Terrein in Amsterdam, with 0.5 spaces per dwelling being typical.  Four of the developments locate their parking away from the dwellings, making most dwellings closer to the public transport stop than to the parking, and three of them also sell the car parking spaces separately from the flats.  The seven developments have levels of car use (measured as % of total trips by car) between 30% and 50% of the level of the wider areas or cities within which they are located.  Clearly this is not just the result of parking standards alone, but also results from very good accessibility by alternative modes, and self-selection amongst those who choose to live in such developments.  Nonetheless, parking standards, including the micro-location of parking within the development, make an important contribution.

Contribution to objectives
Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

Reduced congestion will improve efficiency

Major impact on liveability – parking space replaced by green space, reduction in car parking construction costs allows construction of larger flats

Reduced pollution and congestion will improve the environment

All travellers will benefit from reduced congestion, but those who would have benefited from a parking space if less restrictive standards had been applied will be penalised.  However, in such developments considerable self-selection applies, so the residents actively choose to live in a low car environment and do not view the lack of a parking space as a penalty.  Sale and rental of spaces separately from dwellings avoids cross subsidy of parking costs by residents who do not have a car, or space.

Reduced congestion will improve safety

Reduced congestion will improve efficiency which, in conjunction with environmental improvements, should attract inward investment. However potential perceptions of an access problem due to lack of parking could reduce future investment.

Providing fewer parking spaces reduces the cost of development and therefore of the housing.

= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

University Hospital, Freiburg, Germany

Although a little dated, this example shows the importance of parking standards in reducing car dependence.  Located in the city centre of Freiburg, the hospital had in the early 2000s around 8,000 staff and 60,000 patient visits annually.  Ten years before, the hospital had had 1800 car parking spaces, but this was gradually reduced as the hospital built new buildings on these spaces, but was not permitted to build new spaces in parking structures to replace those surface spaces lost to development.  In 1995, around 38% of staff drove to work, but by 2002 this had fallen to around 25%, due to the limitations on parking coupled with a range of incentives to use alternative modes.

Contribution to objectives
Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

Reduced congestion will improve efficiency

Maximum parking standards may negatively impact on liveability of streets surrounding a development if on-street parking is unregulated.

Reduced pollution and congestion will improve the environment

All travellers will benefit from reduced congestion, but those who would have benefited from a parking space if less restrictive standards had been applied will be penalised.  This effect can be reduced by allocating remaining parking spaces on the basis of criteria such as travel time by public transport, shift working and caring responsibilities.

Reduced congestion will improve safety. Maximum parking standards may negatively impact on the safety of streets surrounding a development if on-street parking is unregulated.

Reduced congestion will improve efficiency which, in conjunction with environmental improvements, should attract inward investment. However potential perceptions of an access problem due to lack of parking could reduce future investment.

Providing fewer parking spaces reduces the cost of development and allows that land to be used for hospital buildings.

= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Oxford, UK

Oxford is a university city of 130,000 people (including students) around 100km west of London.   Its “Balanced Transport Policy” has been in place since 1973 and has combined a reduction in city centre on- and off-street parking (both public and privately controlled) through the application of maximum parking standards with the provision of improved cycle and pedestrian facilities, bus priority and the UK’s most successful park and ride system.  This policy can be seen to have achieved its objectives in that the modal share for trips to the city centre is now less car-dependent than 40 years ago, in spite of significant growth in city centre employment and retail over that time.  It is impossible to disentangle the effects of maximum parking standards from effects of other measures such as the improvements to alternative modes and reduction in road space for cars in the city centre, but maximum parking standards undoubtedly played their part.  It is crucial to note that this success has been achieved by the consistent application of a policy over a long period of time.  Some evaluation of the impacts of Oxford’s policy is available at http://portal.oxfordshire.gov.uk/content/publicnet/council_services/roads_transport/plans_policies/local_transport_plan/apr5.pdf

Contribution to objectives
Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

Reduced congestion will improve efficiency

Major impact on liveability – parking space replaced by public space, reduction in traffic levels makes walking and cycling more pleasant.

Reduced pollution and congestion will improve the environment

All travellers will benefit from reduced congestion, but those who would have benefited from a parking space if less restrictive standards had been applied will be penalised. 

Reduced congestion will improve safety

Reduced congestion will improve efficiency which, in conjunction with environmental improvements, should attract inward investment, as long as accessibility by alternative modes is improved, as it was in Oxford through Park and Ride.

Providing fewer parking spaces reduces the cost of developments and allows existing land to be used for development.

= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Effect of Maximum Parking Standards Including Inward Investment Implications

The Scottish Executive in the United Kingdom published a report, “The Effect of Maximum Car Parking Standards Including Inward Investment Implications” (Scottish Executive, 2002), but evidence is descriptive. Several case studies are included in the report, some of which are reported below. However, contribution of further evidence on performance from KonSULT users would be appreciated.

Aberdeen Robert Gordon University, Scotland, UK – Garthdee Campus

Material taken from “The Effect of Maximum Car Parking Standards Including Inward Investment Implications” (Scottish Executive, 2002).

Context

Robert Gordon University is located in Aberdeen, Scotland and has 9000 students, many part time or non-residential. The University is spread over six sites in and around Aberdeen, three in the city centre, and three on the outskirts. Garthdee is on the outskirts. The catchment area for the University is a 90km radius. There is a shuttle bus (every 45 minutes) between two of the University’s sites on the outskirts of town – including Garthdee - and the city centre.

Development at Garthdee is in two phases. The first phase provided one car parking space per 15 students (equal to the suggested maximum standard in Scotland). Plentiful cycle parking and the shuttle bus (subsidised by the University – students pay 50p) were also provided. Ride sharing with 63 dedicated parking spaces was also introduced and a full Company Transport Plan forms part of phase two of the development.

Phase two car parking is more limited. 162 car parking spaces are to be provided including 7 disabled spaces and 21 car sharing spaces. The campus has 250 members of staff and 2600 students. The ratio of parking to gross floor area is 1:83m2. Additionally, a controlled parking zone with charges is to be implemented over a 500 metre area around the site, entry to the car park is to barrier controlled with another internal barrier to access the car share area. Parking charges will be introduced, although a number of essential users will have passes.

Impacts on demand

Actual changes in demand are not reported, although it seems that development was not complete when the report was written. Staff resistance to the company Transport Plan was noted, although students were said to be more receptive. This will clearly affect the magnitude of changes in demand.

Impacts on supply

Clearly the supply of car parking provided in phase two is deemed to be restrictive. However, it is not clear whether supply on the Garthdee campus falls below demand, given that only 63% of staff drive to work. However, “the University has a financial bond with the local authority requiring that it fund infrastructure improvements if the targets within its Green Transport Plan are not met” (Scottish Executive, 2002). This suggests that car parking supply may well fall below demand to ensure that targets are met.

Overall impacts

The report notes that, “the University does not feel that they are unfairly compromised by a lack of parking. Their closest competitor for students, Aberdeen University, has a restricted parking provision, due to its location in a Historic Conservation Area” (Scottish Executive, 2002). However, there is concern that staff and students will use nearby supermarket car parks. The University intends to tackle this issue in partnership with its neighbours.

Contribution to objectives

Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

 

Reduced congestion will improve efficiency

 

Reduced pollution, congestion and parking in neighbouring streets (this latter being due to the controlled parking zone) will improve liveability

 

Reduced pollution, congestion and parking in neighbouring streets (this latter being due to the controlled parking zone) will improve the environment

 

All travellers will benefit from reduced congestion, but those who would have benefitted from a parking space if less restrictive standards had been applied will be penalised.

 

Reduced congestion and parking in neighbouring streets (this latter being due to the controlled parking zone) will improve safety

 

Reduced congestion will improve efficiency, which in conjunction with environmental improvements, should attract inward investment and attract students to stay in the area, all of which should contribute to economic growth

 

Providing fewer parking spaces will reduce the cost of development, but in this case, the saving is reduced as other mitigating measures are implemented.

= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Edinburgh Park, Scotland

Material taken from “The Effect of Maximum Car Parking Standards Including Inward Investment Implications” (Scottish Executive, 2002).

Context

Edinburgh Park is a business park southwest of Edinburgh. A number of developers are involved and 7000 staff (some working shifts) work in businesses on the site. The catchment area is a 60km radius around Edinburgh. Early development at the site was subject to a parking standard of one space per 25m2, but this will be reduced to 1:50m2 for future developments. Whilst the site is served by buses, and there is a nearby rail station on the Fife Circle line, the Council feel that roads in the area are overloaded; hence the more restrictive parking standards for future development. Additionally, a new rail station is planned for the site, and the park management company have launched a ride share scheme. Despite the congestion, it should be noted that “the park has a reputation for being very well managed in parking terms with no overspill parking evident on the internal roads” (Scottish Executive, 2002).

Overall impacts

The report notes that, “there are many prestigious buildings at Edinburgh Park and the park appears to have no trouble attracting new businesses. Plans to extend the park with stricter parking provisions suggest that they are confident that they can continue to attract more businesses into the area”. A travel survey carried out by Edinburgh Park in 2004 found that 70% of staff drove alone to work.  A figure closer to 95% would be expected at a business park in a location such as this but with no parking restraint.

Contribution to objectives

Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

 

Reduced congestion will improve efficiency

 

The development is not in a residential area, so impacts will be minimal. Nevertheless, reduced pollution and congestion will improve liveability

 

Reduced pollution and congestion will improve the environment

 

All travellers will benefit from reduced congestion, but those who would have benefitted from a parking space if less restrictive standards had been applied will be penalised.

 

Reduced congestion will improve safety

 

Reduced congestion will improve efficiency, which in conjunction with environmental improvements, should attract inward investment. Although potential perceptions of an access problem due to lack of parking could reduce future investment.

 

Providing fewer parking spaces will reduce the cost of development, although mitigating provision such as the ride sharing scheme may reduce savings.

= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Gaps and weaknesses 

The key weakness in this evidence is the lack of evidence on user response. However, such data was not available at the time the report (Scottish Executive, 2002) was written. Evidence including data on changes in demand, inward investment and economic growth would be an important contribution.

Expected contribution to objectives

Contribution to objectives and alleviation of problems

Objective

Robert Gordon University

Edinburgh Park

Freiburg Hospital

Oxford

Various (ITDP, 2012)

Travel plans 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

It should be noted that the assessment in this table is a guestimate due to the descriptive nature of the evidence.

Contribution to alleviation of key problems

Problem

Robert Gordon University

Edinburgh Park

Freiburg Hospital

Oxford

Various (ITDP, 2012)

Travel plans 2002

Congestion

Community impacts

Environmental damage

Poor accessibility

Social and geographical disadvantage

Accidents

Economic growth

= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

It should be noted that the assessment in this table is a guestimate due to the descriptive nature of the evidence.

Appropriate contexts 

Maximum parking standards can be applied in all contexts as long as there is effective enforcement to stop drivers parking elsewhere around the development (including on-street). If this is not available, maximum parking standards will lead to overspill parking. 

Many cities that use maximum standards have less restraint based standards in areas that are less accessible by public transport and vice versa.  Such cities include London, Edinburgh, The Hague, Groningen, Hamburg, Zurich and Krakow.  The incentive to continue to develop in areas with more restraint based standards is that development will be permitted here at a higher density.

If blanket maximum standards are applied irrespective of accessibility by different modes, this may make it problematic for the development to function, as was experienced in England during the early 2000s with a blanket maximum of 1.5 spaces per dwelling (average across a development) for housing.  However, there are good examples of employment developments located in areas of very poor public transport accessibility still functioning with enough parking spaces for fewer than half their employees (see DfT, 2008 for examples).

Appropriate area-types

Area type

Suitability

City centre

Dense inner suburb

Medium density outer suburb

Less dense outer suburb

District centre

Corridor

Small town

Tourist town

= Least suitable area type = Most suitable area type

Adverse side effects

The most significant implementation difficulty for maximum parking standards is the fear that their use will deter inward investment.  Local authorities cite developer threats to move to another local authority area with more generous parking standards as a reason not to use maximum standards.  However, evidence that parking standards do in fact impact on inward investment is hard to find.  Martens (2005) looked at parking policy in four of Europe’s most economically successful cities.  They all restricted parking but continued to be successful economically.  The Scottish Government (Executive) (2002) and English Department for Transport (2008) looked at the impacts of national maximum parking standards for new development in their countries.  Neither could find a significant impact on inward investment.  The City of Oxford, England, stopped allowing parking to be built with new buildings in its city centre in 1973.  Islington in London does not permit any new parking to be constructed with any residential development in its entire area (and residents of new houses are not eligible for on-street parking permits).  Oxford remains highly successful economically, whilst Islington has house prices of around €10,000 per square metre (2014). 

As noted earlier, Marsden and Mullen (2012) and Mullen (personal communication, 2014) have been unable to find evidence of developers actually carrying out their threats of moving to an area with more generous parking standards in interview research with 21 transport planners in four English city regions in 2010 and 2011.  Of course this absence of evidence does not mean that in fact this competition between cities on parking standards does not occur, and the evidence that is available relates mainly to larger and already economically successful cities.  It may be that for smaller and economically weaker cities, the application of strict parking standards – without a national maximum affecting other authorities – could have negative economic impacts.

  • City of Gent (2013) Parkeerplan Gent 2020, Research Report: Part 2, Benchmarking.  City of Gent, Belgium.
  • City of The Hague, Parking Standards, 2004.  The Hague, Netherlands.
  • City of York Council, commuted payments.http://www.york.gov.uk/environment/york/localplan/appe/ accessed on 11th July 2014..
  • DETR – Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1998), Parking Standards in The South East, DETR, London.
  • DfT (2008) Research into the Use and Effectiveness of Maximum Parking Standards.  Report by Atkins to DfT, London.
  • DfT (UK Department for Transport) 2009 Good Practice Guidelines: Delivering travel plans through the planning system.  DfT, London.
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  • ITDP (2011) Europe’s Parking U-Turn: from Accommodation to Regulation.  Available at http://www.itdp.org/documents/European_Parking_U-Turn.pdf
  • Karl Thurén (2012) Förtäta på parkering (Densify on parking space).  Masters Thesis, Lunds Tekniska Högskola, Sweden.
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  • Rye, T., Green C., Young E. and Ison, S (2011) Using the land-use planning process to secure travel plans: an assessment of progress in England to date. Journal of Transport Geography 19 (2011) 235–243
  • Scottish Executive (2002) The Effect of Maximum Car Parking Standards Including Inward Investment Implications.  Report by Faber Maunsell to Scottish Executive, Edinburgh.
  • Swiss Association of Road and Transportation Experts (n.d.), Swiss National Standard 640 281.  Parking provision for cars in new developments.