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Cambridge City Council

Changes to car park charges aim to reduce congestion while boosting economy and electric vehicle use

21 November 2023

Cambridge City Council is asking for feedback on some potential adjustments to charges at the car parks it manages from April 2024.

To help reduce congestion during peak hours, enhance air quality, and encourage the use of alternative transport options, the proposed changes will see an average increase of 5% in daytime parking rates at council owned car parks.

In response to customer feedback, it is also proposed that the current multi storey car park tariff structure would be simplified. The number of tariffs would be reduced from four to two for each car park, with just one ‘peak time’ tariff and one ‘off-peak’ tariff seven days a week in order to provide more clarity and convenience to customers.

These proposed changes are part of the council's ongoing commitment to provide a high-quality parking service, while working to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and promote a greener low-carbon environment. The proposed changes, subject to approval as part of the council’s budget setting process, would keep the increase in parking charges in line with the rate of inflation, to help maintain affordability for residents and visitors.

At the same time the revised pricing structure would help manage availability of spaces and address congestion, by encouraging people to use public transport such as Park & Ride, or to walk or cycle into the city where possible.

Under the proposals, free parking would continue to be available at city council car parks during evenings and overnight, allowing greater convenience for city residents and visitors and supporting businesses that trade in the evenings.

Free parking would remain available from 6pm to 8am (Sunday evening to Saturday morning)  and from 6pm on Saturday to 10am on Sunday at all multi-storey car parks and four pay and display car parks.

This initiative was introduced successfully last year. As well as supporting the night-time economy, it enables owners of electric vehicles to access charging points in council car parks without incurring parking charges.

Cambridge City Council's partnership with Connected Kerb has already led to the installation of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in some of the council’s car parks and is in the process of being introduced into the Queen Anne Terrace multi-storey car park, and Gwydir Street and Campkin Road car parks. The council has a long-term objective to increase the number of EV charging bays to 600 over the next eight years.

The council is now seeking input from local businesses, employers, residents, car park users, and other stakeholders on these proposed adjustments to its off-street parking policy 2024-2025.

To view the detailed parking charges proposals, residents are encouraged to visit the council's consultation platform and can comment on the proposals before 3 December.

Comments received on the proposals will be considered by Cllr Katie Thornburrow, Executive Councillor for Planning, Building Control and Infrastructure, who will recommend amendments to the initial proposals, if necessary, before any changes are introduced next year subject to approval by councillors.

Cllr Thornburrow said: “We believe the proposals for our car parks will offer a fair and clearer pricing structure for people using them. They will enable us to continue providing a first class service there, while also playing a part in reducing congestion and improving air quality in Cambridge.

“We understand that travelling to Cambridge by car is convenient for many people and essential for some. However, we also have a duty to do as much as we can to reduce congestion in the city, improve air quality and encourage people to use electric vehicles or other sustainable forms of transport. Please let us know what you think of the proposals by taking part in our consultation by 3 December.”

The proposed changes would apply at the following car parks managed by Cambridge City Council:

  • Grand Arcade Multi-Storey
  • Grafton East Multi-Storey
  • Grafton West Multi-Storey
  • Queen Anne Terrace Multi-Storey
  • Park Street Multi-Storey (when reopen)
  • Adam and Eve Street
  • Castle Hill
  • Gwydir Street
  • Riverside

Cambridgeshire County Council is responsible for managing on-street parking in Cambridge.