English councils ban cars over 5 metres from car parks

Top down aerial view of many cars in a car park of supermarket or on sale car dealer market.

Five English councils have prohibited cars longer than five metres from using parking lots, according to information obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

With 91% of councils saying they have no plans to raise the size of parking bays in major towns and cities throughout the nation, this could be the beginning of a bigger campaign to ban longer vehicles from these places.

The five councils are Wokingham, South Hampshire, Broadland, South Suffolk, and West Devon.

Many well-known vehicles, such as the Mercedes S-Class, Range Rovers, Tesla Model S, BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, Rolls Royce Cullinan, and Kia EV9, would be deemed too large for typical bay parking places.

Many premium sports cars and SUVs are also far longer than five metres.

Data from This is Money revealed that the standard off-street parking length is an average of 4.8 metres.

Every UK council received the FOI request from Autocar in an attempt to find out if there were any plans to increase parking spaces in the future, as many haven’t been updated in decades.

The smallest areas were 2.5 metres wide and 4.8 metres long starting in the 1970s; yet, throughout the previous 50 years, car sizes have increased dramatically.

Most on-street parking is also significantly shorter and thinner than bay parking spaces.

Are cars getting bigger?

According to research released by Transport & Environment (T&E) in January 2024, cars are becoming 1cm wider every two years, which makes them unsuitable for a lot of on-street and off-street parking spots.

T&E stated that this trend will continue due to the rising popularity of SUVs.

The average width of new cars expanded to 180.3cm in the first half of 2023, up from 177.8cm in 2018.

Additionally, information gathered in the two decades leading up to 2020 by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) supports the similar pattern.

The maximum width for new cars in the EU and Great Britain is 255 cm, the same as that for buses and lorries.

T&E study indicates that of the top 100 models sold in 2023, 52% of them were too wide to fit in the 180-cm minimum required for on-street parking in key cities including London, Paris, and Rome.

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