In 2017/18 North Kesteven District Council undertook a customer-led review of parking provision that resulted in a joined-up approach to managing parking quality, quantity and cost within Sleaford town centre.
Local authority: North Kesteven District Council
Submitted by: Chris Wade, People & Places Partnership and Richard Ofield, Park Consult on behalf of NKDC.
Case study synopsis:
In 2017/18 North Kesteven District Council undertook a customer-led review of parking provision that resulted in a joined-up approach to managing parking quality, quantity and cost within Sleaford town centre. The outcomes are improved benefits for a range of town centre customers and businesses alongside sufficient council revenue to enable re-investment in the parking service. The new parking strategy is an integrated part of wider economic and social policies and the introduction of a simple ‘data dashboard’ provides continued confirmation of sustained impacts for sharing with stakeholders.
Sleaford is a small market town in North Kesteven, Lincolnshire. Like many similar towns, parking provision and policy for Sleaford had evolved largely though piece-meal changes. In 2017 however, the Council recognized a need for a joined-up approach that jointly supported improved parking management and town centre regeneration objectives. The People & Places Partnership and Park Consult were appointed to undertake a comprehensive and customer-led review of parking using the People, Places & Parking process.
Initial survey work in Sleaford confirmed that parking provision faced challenges and objectives common to many town centres:
- dispersing car parks usage around the town
- enhancing the use of town centre by different user groups
- sustaining parking revenue to operate the service
- offering more consistent pricing between car parks
North Kesteven District Council recognized that it is important to involve stakeholders in addressing these challenges, if perceptions of town centre parking provision are to change in the long-term. Within this, there was an understanding that it was important to take a customer-led approach to parking and to meet the different needs of visitors, workers, residents and pop-and-shop, casual users.
Using the People, Places & Parking process, three key aspects of parking provision were assessed and addressed:
Quality: customers’ experiences of the whole ‘parking journey’ from main road to destination were assessed using a parking journey audit and ‘within car park’ checklist.
Attractive and accessible ‘park and stroll’ routes between some peripheral council car parks and the town centre were identified as a striking feature of the parking journey in Sleaford and recommendations made to enhance all provision to such a consistently high level. Similarly, supermarket car parking with well-marked bays, good lighting, well-maintained surfaces and up-to-date payment equipment provided a benchmark for raising the standard of the in-car park experience. It was recommended that priority be given to overdue investment in new parking payment technology.
Quantity: the availability of parking suited to different users by location and duration was assessed to help better balance supply and demand across Sleaford.
To better meet customer needs and address the uneven distribution of parking use, recommendations were made for setting the parking tariff (price and duration) to optimise turn-over of spaces and better manage supply and demand. Key user groups were identified as: short-term ‘pop-and-shoppers’ requiring readily available spaces in convenient locations; medium- to long-term comparison shoppers, leisure users and part-time workers requiring 2-4 hours and convenience for end location; and long-term commuters requiring 8-10 hours of parking daily and accepting of slightly less convenience.
Cost: recommendations were made for revising and standardising the parking tariffs in Sleaford with a primary objective of changing the distribution of parking spaces to better suit different users’ needs.
As a consequence of better meeting customer needs, Sleaford’s car parks can operate more effectively and generate income to contribute to much-needed investment in the quality of the parking service. Data on existing revenue suggested that increased turnover of short-term parking, in particular, could help underpin investments in payment technology. Overall it was projected that the proposed tariff changers will positively increase the total revenue by an estimated 20% to enable access improvements including the introduction of new car parking technology.
Recommendations for improved parking provision in Sleaford include the introduction of a simple ‘data dashboard’ that can be used to monitor the inter-relationships between indicators and help sustain impacts in the following ways:
- Quality: Journey & parking experience audit for each car park.
- Quantity: peak level of usage and average usage throughout the week.
- Cost: average level of annual income received per bay
- Footfall: peak town centre footfall per hour.
Though a simple set of indicators, these give a more sophisticated perspective on parking that can be routinely shared with stakeholders.
How is the new approach being sustained?
Alongside the regular review of key monitoring indicators with stakeholders, the approach will be sustained by constant policy links to the wider context in terms of transport issues, town centre development and growth. This will involve continued consideration of short-term operational improvements and the longer-term alignment of parking provision with wider policy. Already identified future policy proposals include the potential reconfiguration and changing role of the town centre, changing travel modes, local growth and a potential reduction in private car use.
One of the key lessons learned from this study has been the value of such a review being jointly led by parking managers and economic regeneration officers. This has enabled a joined-up approach that sets parking policy within the wider context of town centre regeneration.
Principal Economic Development Officer
North Kesteven District Council
Telephone: 01529 308344
Environment Manager, Waste and Street Scene
North Kesteven District Council
Telephone: 01529 308380
Links to relevant documents:
A downloadable summary of the People, Places & Parking process for Sleaford town centre is available here.