Parking in London’s streets: hard-nosed analysis from Centre for London

The Reinventing Parking podcast is back after a few months' break and the world has changed! We won't focus on the pandemic and its impacts this time but if you want thoughts on parking policy and the crisis, I have a twitter thread.

Instead, the focus today is a new report from Centre for London, entitled "Reclaim the Kerb: the Future of Parking and Kerbside Management in London".

The report has striking and useful things to say, especially about the neglected topic of residential on-street parking. There are lessons for parking change-makers all over the world.

Many thanks to my guest, Joe Wills, Senior Researcher at Centre for London.

Scroll down for some highlights from our conversation or listen with the player below.  

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Highlights from my interview with Joe Wills about the Reclaim the Kerb report from the Centre for London

If the highlights below spark your curiosity then please do dive into the recorded interview with the player at the top or by subscribing and listening with your favourite podcast listening app. Here's how

We started with reflections on policy and advocacy work during lockdowns and on our belief that this work and this report still has long-term relevance. [1:00]

We then discussed parking policy in the context of London's unusual governance structure, in which the Mayor of London sets strategies but has relatively limited powers and 33 Boroughs (local governments) have substantial responsibilities. The Mayor has ambitious sustainable transport targets but the Boroughs vary widely in their enthusiasm for these, in their characteristics, and on their parking policy settings. [4:16]

Street changes involving parking changes are often extremely controversial. This is not unique to London of course! For example, parking in the High Street was one focus of angry protests in the early stages in 2015 and 2016 of Waltham Forest's (now popular) Little Holland reforms [7:00]

The report highlights the enormous amount of space (ten Hyde Parks!) that London parking, even just on-street parking, occupies. Hyde Park, as one of London's iconic large open spaces, makes a shocking comparison. Can you make a similar comparison with an iconic space in your city? [10:47]

The report also uses several methods to highlight how under-priced on-street parking permits are in London.

The most provocative method was a comparison of parking permit prices with real estate values [13:26]

The next method was more realistic. The report compared on-street permit prices with the actual rents charged for nearby comparable driveway parking spaces via the popular peer-to-peer parking rental service, JustPark. They found that, across London, rental values for parking spaces in the JustPark market were at least TEN times higher than permit prices. [17:06]

Parking permits are even under-priced by the most conservative estimate used in the report. Their prices in each Borough fail to cover a careful estimate of each Borough's actual costs of parking operations.  [20:55]

Another highlight was the survey of Londoners' attitudes to the use of kerbside space in the city. On street parking for residents comes below ‘trees and green space’, pavements free of clutter, children’s play space, community space. It is only the fifth-highest priority for street use. Just 31 per cent of non-car owners believe it should be high priority for street use in their local area, compared to 52 per cent of car owners. [25:02]

We finished with just a few of the report's recommendations for London's Boroughs. [27:51]

We had an extensive chat about this one: "Set residential parking permit charges at a level that helps achieve strategic modal shift objectives and fully covers the total operating costs of residential parking."

We then turned to this one: "introduce a cap on the number of permits issued, using waiting lists for new applications or limiting eligibility for new residents." [33:15]

We ended with the report's call for "kerbside strategies that allocate road and kerb space in accordance with clear use hierarchies." [36:39]

If you are interested in more detail, please take a listen to our conversation!

About Joe Will, his co-authors and the Centre for London

Joe Wills is a Senior Researcher at Centre for London. He was previously a Research Intern at the New Local Government Network focussing on local democratic governance and preventative public health strategies. Prior to that, he worked in London local government at the Royal Borough of Greenwich, working on issues that included housing, regeneration and local economic development. Joe holds an MSc in Social Policy from the London School of Economics.

Centre for London is the UK capital city’s dedicated but politically independent think tank that develops new solutions to London’s critical challenges.

Silviya Barrett was head of the Transport and Environment research programme at Centre for London but has now moved on to an important role at the Campaign for Better Transport.

Mario Washington-Ihieme is also a Researcher at Centre for London. Her research interests include young people and employment, social mobility and cultural policy. Mario is also a Young Trustee for London Youth.


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