Car Parking - 237 'Vital and Viable' Factors

As part of our series on vital and viable high streets, the High Streets Task Force is presenting 'evidence on a page' summaries of over 200 factors that influence the success of high streets. Here we address car parking: car parking refers to the number or availability of parking spaces in the town centre, High Street, shopping centre, retail park, etc. It also relates to parking costs, maximum parking duration, the location of parking spaces, and the diversity of parking supply.

Date added 10 November 2021
Last updated 10 November 2021

Car parking is an important factor as congestion can lead to a decrease of accessibility for residents, employees, customers and visitors, and for service and delivery traffic. Therefore, when considering the maintenance or improvement the accessibility of the urban retail areas, parking measures are central in the policy and planning for this. The provision of ‘easy’, ‘plenty’, and ‘inexpensive parking’ has been numerously mentioned by respondents as a factor for high street patronage (Bell, 1999), as well as giving the perception of better quality of service (DeNisco and Warnaby, 2013). 

Planners try to control accessibility with a range of infrastructural and regulatory measures and - in the case of car parking - parking measures by predicting the effects of them on shopping behaviours. Research suggests that the location of the car parking facilities have an impact on where people choose to shop as consumers are more likely to visit stores in the close vicinity of where they parked (van der Waerden et al, 1998). Pricing policies need to be carefully implemented as there is high sensitivity to increases or decreases in tariffs, and any increase must correspond to the attractiveness and quality of the area. 

Car parking is one of 237 factors that have been identified as influencing the vitality and viability of the high street.

For more information and further reading, download the pdf 'evidence on a page'. The page contains information about this factors place within the 237 factors identified and: whether it is a component factor of one of 25 'vital and viable' priorities; how the factor scores in terms of influence, place management control, and priority.

To read more about vital and viable high streets, see