Potential Impact of Driveway Parking

Potential Impact of Driveway Parking

June 2015


1       Introduction


Over the last twenty years, parking pricing and availability has been seen as an effective policy tool to control traffic in towns. Park and ride has been provided in a number of UK towns as a way of taking car traffic out of the town centre. Few park and rides operations make a surplus –

In many towns most using it are long stay.

Town centre parking prices are a key instrument in reducing car use in towns and encouraging access to the town by alternative modes. During the last five years of recession much of the environmental drive has been subdued and town authorities, under pressure from commercial interests to reduce barriers to trade, have been more closely benchmarking their parking charges with competing towns, especially to attract the retail trade.

If we look over the longer term however, reducing parking availability in our towns and increasing tariffs, in particular for parking used by commuters who drive in the peak periods, has been a consistent theme. That said, we have not really seen a continued increase in long stay parking prices over the last few years even if short stay prices have remained static. In many locations, long stay prices have not been increased and where deemed appropriate, short stay pricing has been subject to a range of offers.

If the recession has generated some re-balancing in High Street capacity, if retailers have made necessary adjustments to live with the internet and we now see an increase in economic activity again, will we see a return of policies that use fiscal levers to address rising peak hour congestion? An early indication of this return to trend was seen in St Helier earlier this year when the Environment Minister stated that “too many car parks and cheap parking rates have caused a major States policy to get more Islanders using public transport to fail” (Jersey Evening Post, 2015).

There is now however some key differences that may require consideration before we return to trend. While the country has been bearing recession, the technology and growing acceptance of the sharing economy has emerged. This has facilitated residents and businesses in selling space on their driveway or forecourt for parking to an otherwise unknown but large potential market. The other key change has been the legitimisation of this market by central government. Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Local Government at the time, said: “Parking charges and fines are not a cash cow for town halls…This government is standing up against the town hall parking bullies and over-zealous parking enforcement.” (DCLG, 2013).

Thus while in many UK towns and cities the local authority still has the dominant position on the parking provided and therefore on the prices being set for parking, the sharing economy presents an interesting constraint on the use of pricing policy levers.

A local authority looking to discourage car choice into the town centre as part of a wider remit to reduce peak hour traffic congestion, reduce traffic in the town’s commercial streets and as part of a wider environmental objective, may see an increase in parking charges as a sensible and equitable approach. In particular such an approach may be pursued in conjunction with the promotion of other measures such as park and ride, which if they are to be in any way viable, are dependent on a minimal level of parking charge prevailing within the town centre (or insufficient supply).

Rather than persuading drivers to switch modes, an increase in parking charges across the town centre may actually create the right conditions for more residents to consider selling their driveways. And this is a bad thing for local authorities for a number of reasons. It creates more parking capacity where it didn’t previously exist and sold on at prices less than the prevailing rate in the local authorities’ car parks. This is counter to any objective to reduce peak hour car traffic coming into the approaches to the town. Furthermore, but of less relevance to the argument set out here, the revenue being generated does not go to the local authority and thus cannot be used as part of an overall package to support other preferable modes and services that are unable to generate enough revenue to be self-funding.

The last thought is that driveway parking may be a one-way process. Residents will not bother with the process unless the returns are sufficient to motivate them to do so. However once the barrier and inertia to setting up driveway parking is overcome, and residents earn a consistent revenue for little on-going cost, it seems less likely that residents will readily switch back, even if the returns reduce. Indeed there is scope for the town’s parking market to become very competitive and residents, unencumbered by any appreciation or obvious need to recover costs in a commercial sense and certainly not paying VAT, may readily reduce prices in order to retain a high level of occupancy.

There’s also another aspect of residential driveway parking that presents an unfortunate match for the local authority. The nature of selling a single driveway parking space is that a resident is likely to seek a regular user for the driveway every day over a long term. Such an arrangement reduces the number of transactions, makes the process easier to manage and presents some reliability and joint understanding of each parties’ needs. On that basis then residential driveway parking will on the whole be marketed at regular all day users: commuters. In terms of making the jump to residential driveway parking, the long stay commuter is probably already walking some distance from the long stay parking on the periphery of the town centre and paying a not considerable price for their all day parking. There is  potential for commuter and resident to find a common price that works well for both parties.  




To put this into context and understand whether this is a justified concern or something that will have a notable but not significant effect, we selected a small city in the South East of the UK. Chelmsford has a population of around 110,000 in the city and immediate urban area (Chelmsford City Council, 2012). It has two characteristic commuter flows not untypical of commuter towns; first, peaking at around 07:00-07:30, a significant number of residents from the local area travel to the mainline railway station to take trains to London. Second, from 08:00 onwards, flows of traffic for the city centre and schools from local areas and inbound on the trains. The city operates two park and ride sites.

The city council operates most of the off street parking capacity. The diagram shows the key long stay parking within the city and the daily charge available at those locations based on either the lowest charge for a nine hour stay or the effective daily rate of an Annual Permit (assuming use on 220 days a year). A number of car parks within the commercial centre operating tariffs geared for short stay have day rates in excess of £10 and typically at £18. These are not shown and considered out of scope by most commuters.

The two isochrones show 500 m from the railway station and a notional centre of commercial activity in the town. At a typical walk speed of 5 kph these isochrones represent at least 6 minutes walk time but probably more due to indirect routes and delays from crossing roads.

The county council operate two park and ride sites, both situated around 3 miles from the centre and providing a ten minute frequency service Monday to Saturday from 07:00 to 19:00. The Sandon site is to the south east and has 1500 parking bays. The Chelmer Valley site, to the north east, has 1003 bays. It charges £3 per return trip.

The red line shows the extent of the current on-street parking restrictions. The specifics vary by location, but on all streets within the restricted area it is not permissible to park a vehicle for a nine hour daytime period. The extent of the restrictions have been determined by the city in response to a wish to control unwanted commuter parking on residential streets. Some daytime commuter parking continues beyond the restricted area. By virtue of this response from the council, the extent of the on-street restrictions defines the distance that many commuters are prepared to walk to reduce their parking costs.

The blue shaded areas shown within the restricted area are those residential locations that from our own survey during January 2015 were identified to have sufficient space within their curtilage to accommodate vehicles.  


2.1     Willingness to Pay


The value of travel time savings for a commuter in the UK has a perceived value of £7.88 (2015 values and prices) and walk time is typically valued at twice in-vehicle time (Department of Transport, 2014). Thus a rule of thumb, given that a return trip is made from where one parks to a destination, we can expect the perceived value of parking a minute closer to one’s commute destination to be worth:

£7.88 x 2 [walk time factor] x 2 [return trip] / 60 [minutes] = 53 pence/minute per day.

Considering the Chelmsford example, we see that to park close to the railway station costs around £6 per day. To park 5 to 6 minutes away costs £3.50. This indicates in practice parking a minute’s walk distance closer is worth 58 pence (using 6 minutes).

For the town centre, there is a less well defined attraction point. However considering the centre point used in the diagram, parking at 500m distance can be had for £3.50/day using an annual permit, and parking at no charge is possible by parking on street at probably a further 1000 metres (1.5km from the centre). This equates to a walk time of around a further 12 minutes. On the basis that the restricted area is of at least sufficient extent to discourage most commuters, this suggests a minute’s walk distance to be worth at least 30 pence.

So while only a crude estimation and comparison to theory, and without account of the other factors influencing parking choice and value, we can use as a rule of thumb that for every minute closer a car parking location is to the destination, long stay commuters may pay 50 pence per day.

These calculations are based on formal parking in local authority or commercially operated facilities. Will users pay as much when the parking location is a residential driveway?


2.2     Residential Driveway Market Rates


The following table presents a selection of towns known by the author with the prevalent long stay parking charge in a formal parking area shown against a residential driveway parking charge (that had been booked) on the website operated by JustPark (Just Park, 2014).


Parking Long Stay

(Just Park)


Chelmsford Station




Ipswich Centre




Ipswich Station




Epsom Station




Bury St Edmunds Station*




Cambridge Centre




Cambridge Station




Manchester Piccadilly




Newcastle Haymarket




Leeds City Centre












*The station car park has only 26 parking bays; the assumption is that these are fully occupied on long term permits. Driveway parking is thus offering availability rather than just price competition.


The rates for the private driveway parking offer around a 26% discount in general over those offered by the formal locations. It seems reasonable that a new entrant to providing parking will need to establish a competitive edge to bring about some change where commuters have a choice. In instances where residents may be providing a parking location and convenience that cannot be bought in the formal market, we may well see higher prices paid.

Looking again at our diagram of Chelmsford, even within the 500 metre isochrone thare are some properties with off street parking. It is fair to say that more generally at the 500 metres mark the housing stock is beginning to consistently have its own  driveway parking. At a distance of 750 metres (a further 3 minutes’ walk), and working on a rate of 50 pence per minute’s walk distance, and then applying a 25% discount to this, suggests that these residents could prove competitive at a daily rate of £1.50. This would equate to a gross income of £330 per year. Thanks to specific changes to the rules on this being taxable income and providers of the apps offering umbrella cover for potential insurance liabilities that may arise, establishing an on-going revenue with potentially limited maintenance or management is in scope for many householders.

Returning to the key point of this paper, if formal city centre long stay parking charges were to be increased in part as a further measure to reduce peak hour congestion from car borne commuting, several things happen. The distance from the city centre for which residents may consider it worth earning revenue from driveway parking extends. Moreover the area that comes into scope as the distance lengthens, increases quadratically. What compounds this further, is that as the distance increases from the centre, so the type of property that comes into scope has, in general, more spare driveway parking capacity surplus to that required by the resident. And of course, as the formal city centre long stay parking charges increase, so does the potential revenue for those residents able to sell on a driveway parking space.


2.3     Conclusion


We set out that using town centre parking charges has been an approach in previous years to curtail single occupancy commuters driving into the town centre and provide financial leverage to encourage the use of other preferable modes. Since the increased familiarity and rise in the sharing economy, and the legitimisation of residents trading their driveways for parking on an open market, this has created a different set of conditions and potential responses by commuters faced with increased charges at the formal parking places. We have shown with an illustration in one town in the South East of the UK how there is suitable residential driveway locations within scope for commuters that are within an area already restricted to prevent commuter parking on-street. This residential parking is currently further out from the city centre than most of the formal long stay parking, but some is, and more will readily become in scope for commuters if it is priced competitively against the charges made at the formal car parks. Moreover, if the formal parking charges increase, as part of measures to reduce peak hour traffic and congestion, the amount of residential driveway parking that come into scope to be marketed such that it offers a competitive price to commuters and worthwhile return to householders will increase substantially. It is our contention that once residents have successfully marketed their spare driveway parking and overcome the initial barriers and requirements, they will not readily stop. Thus one of the key policy levers that existed previously by local authorities to address peak hour traffic congestion may now need to be pulled only after further specific and local consideration of the potential consequences .