Communities secretary Eric Pickles has hit out at “confusing” car parking practices and “overzealous parking wardens” for harming the high street, in advance of new planning guidance set to be published this week.
The Department of Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) new planning guidance will seek to force councils to make high streets “more car-friendly.”
Covering design, town centres and travel plans, the guidance will highlight the role that appropriate parking facilities can play in rejuvenating shops, high streets and town centres, which up until now have been hindered by “draconian” parking policies, Pickles said.
According to C-Store’s most recent online poll, 85% of convenience store retailers believed that their local authority’s parking policy was hurting business.
The new guide will push for the creation of more town centre parking space, while councils will be urged to ensure that parking charges are “appropriate” and do “not undermine the vitality of town centres and local shops”.
Proportionate parking enforcement will also be called for.
Councils will also be called on to avoid “unnecessary clutter” such as parking bollards and roads humps, and ensure that lighting, railings, litter bins, paving, and street furniture are “well designed and sensitively placed.”
“Town halls need to ditch their anti-car dogma. Making it easier to park will help support local shops, local jobs and tourism,” Pickles added.
“Draconian town hall parking policies and street clutter can make driving into town centres unnecessarily stressful and actually create more congestion because of lack of places to park. Anti-car measures are driving motorists into the arms of internet retailers and out of town superstores, taking their custom with them,” he added.
Independent retailer Dan Cock, who is currently embroiled in a parking battle with his local council, welcomed the news.
Dan’s local council plans to introduce new parking restrictions to stop customers from parking outside his Whitstone Stores in Holsworthy, Devon.
“The local council claims that it’s dangerous for people to park outside my store as it’s quite a busy road, but the problem is there isn’t anywhere else for them to go. It’s like we are being victimised for being busy, the council has absolutely no understanding of the impact that such restrictions would have on my trade.”
Almost 60% of retailers don’t believe that councils adequately consider the impact of their parking and highways policies on local shops, the Association of Convenience Stores’ (ACS) Voice of Local Shops survey recently revealed.
The Transport Select Committee meanwhile is also currently considering a major overhaul of UK parking regulation enforcement, with a report on the issue set to be published this Autumn.
According to the British Parking Association, it is expected to recommend the creation of a new national single system governing civil parking enforcement officers and parking attendants.