Multiple UK cities and towns are considering workplace parking levies (WPL) as a way of tackling air quality and emissions targets and raising money to invest in sustainable transport projects.
Leicester, Reading, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cambridge, Bristol and Hounslow and Camden in London have all confirmed that a WPL is under consideration.
It will put further focus on fleets to consider alternative mobility options for employees in city centre office locations, alongside their future planning on how to mitigate the impact of other measures like clean air zones (CAZs) and congestion charges.
Leicester City Council has now shared more details on how a WPL could fit in with its renewed transport plan. It is expected to launch a formal consultation soon on introducing a WPL in 2021.
Leicester has declared a Climate Emergency and has said that “tackling carbon emissions from transport is a vital part of our response”, with transport accounting for 25% of the city’s carbon emissions in 2017.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation at Leicester City Council, said: “Like many cities, Leicester faces real challenges to improve air quality, cut congestion and encourage more people to make the shift to sustainable, clean transport options.”
A report from Leicester Council on the WPL said the levy would likely encourage employees to use other, more sustainable forms of transport to commute to and from work, particularly if employers choose to pass on charges to staff. All money will go to fund new transport projects such as investing in electric buses.
The council has yet to decide whether a WPL will be in a specific area or across the entire city. Any WPL in Leicester would apply to off-site parking purchased by an employer on a third party’s land, including public car parks, but does not apply to general public car parking or customer parking areas.
A Leicester Council spokesman said: “No decisions have been made on the actual cost of the charge per space and it is not possible to estimate this for Leicester until more detailed work has been carried out on the levy.”
To date, Nottingham is the only UK city to have introduced a WPL. The council has invested in public transport including tram, bus and railway station improvements.
Nottingham’s rate is £415 per parking space per year, which has generated around £64m since 2012.
Leicester is also hoping it can use the WPL to attract additional external grants, particularly from Government. For example, Nottingham raised more than £430m of additional external funding to help pay for its tram, train station and electric bus projects.
The process for introducing a workplace parking levy is set out in the Transport Act 2000. Any proposed scheme is subject to approval from the Secretary of State for Transport.
Leicester is one of eight areas contacted by Fleet News that are actively looking to introduce a WPL.
Reading launched a major future transport consultation on July 29 and is looking at a WPL, in addition to a congestion charge and a CAZ. A consultation will be launched in spring 2020.
Edinburgh Council said its City Centre Transformation Plan, City Mobility Plan and the recent council commitment to set a Carbon Neutral Target of 2030 give a clear policy context for consideration of a WPL in the Scottish capital.
Glasgow Council said that, while it is not yet undertaking consultation on a WPL, it is supportive of introducing one. Bristol is in the same position and a WPL remains under consideration to form part of its “mass transit system”.
Cambridge is also looking at a WPL and the Greater Cambridge Citizens’ Assembly will make its proposals to the city council before the end of the year.
Both Hounslow and Camden are working on WPL plans. Hounslow is currently consulting on introducing a levy and believes around 4,200 workplace parking spaces would be affected. No decisions have been made on the cost per space, but Hounslow has said it is looking at between £500 and £1,000 per space per year.
Final consultation on Hounslow’s WPL will likely happen next year.