Residential parking permits are seen as a way of managing parking and pollution in the most populated UK towns and cities. But where are residents being charged the highest premiums to park?
There are many costs to consider when you own a car, from parking permits to insurance and car finance options.
Moneybarn have analysed parking permit prices from local UK councils in the country’s most populated towns and cities, to reveal which areas are the cheapest and most expensive for a parking permit. It also analysed parking permit prices in each London borough, to compare costs within the country’s most expensive city.
The most expensive cities for a parking permit in the UK
Milton Keynes is the most expensive city to park in the UK.
1. Milton Keynes, average annual permit cost: £693
Milton Keynes, the largest settlement in Buckinghamshire, England, recorded the highest price for a parking permit compared to any other city, with an average cost of £693 per year. The reason for the city’s pricey premium could be to discourage residents from driving, thereby reducing traffic in the city. The more expensive it is to park, the more likely it is that people will choose a suitable public transport alternative.
The Go Ultra Low scheme was introduced in Milton Keynes in 2020, to promote the use of ultra-low emission vehicles. The EV Hub stands to provide local residents without off-street parking to be able to own an electric vehicle and charge it within walking distance of their homes. Milton Keynes currently has the highest number of public electric car charging points in England per 100,000 population, outside of London and Coventry.
2. Wolverhampton, average annual permit cost: £639
Following behind Milton Keynes is the West Midlands city of Wolverhampton, with an average cost for a residential parking permit costing £639 annually. The historical city promotes the use of electric vehicles and encourages residents to suggest locations for more charging points.
3. Blackpool, average annual permit cost: £600
Blackpool placed third in the ranking, with an average annual cost of £600 for a residential parking permit. Blackpool is a popular tourist destination, and a record 19 million people visited the seaside town in 2021. The town has also been named in the top five ‘most expensive places for beachside parking’ with charges of more than £5.50 per hour, which could be an indication of why residents pay so much.
The cheapest cities for a parking permit in the UK
Swansea and Leeds are the cheapest cities to park in the UK.
1. Swansea, average annual permit cost: £0
Parking permits are a reliable way of creating revenue for councils that could be used to improve highways. However, setting up a resident parking zone could have a knock-on effect, making parking in neighbouring areas worse as drivers flock to cheaper areas to park. Fortunately, Swansea Council has solved this problem by making residential permits free, taking it to first place.
1. Leeds, average annual permit cost: £0
Leeds City Council also has free parking permits, meaning it shares the top spot with Swansea. This makes Leeds a great place to be a driver, providing an economic advantage for vehicle-owning residents.
3. Preston, average annual permit cost: £25
Preston takes third place in the ranking, with the average parking permit costing residents £25 annually. The town has lowered its permit charges over the last few years after signing an agreement with Lancashire County Council to standardise the price of resident parking across the county. The agreement also stipulated that electric vehicles will not be charged for permits in a bid to support greener modes of transport in the city.
The most expensive boroughs for a parking permit in London
The City of London is the most expensive borough to park in London.
1. City of London, average annual permit cost: £1,543
Residential parking permits mean a reduction of traffic on residential streets, as drivers with permits won’t have to spend too long searching for a space. This reduction in traffic improves air quality by reducing vehicle emissions. Residents of the City of London will benefit greatly from this, with The Square Mile charging its residents an average of more than £1500 for an annual parking permit.
2. Greenwich, average annual permit cost: £887
Up next is Greenwich, with the borough’s residents paying an average of £887 for a single parking permit. Greenwich Borough Council aims to reduce car usage in the area by 45 percent by 2030, which could explain the high cost of permits. The council has also proposed tough new restrictions on parking, including expanding existing controlled parking zones and adding new ones too. To encourage more environmentally-friendly transport, parking permits for electric cars are discounted by £26 throughout the borough.
3. Camden, average annual permit cost: £290
Resident parking schemes offer motorists who don’t have access to off-street parking the opportunity to park closer to their homes, making parking easier and more convenient for drivers. This is especially useful in heavily urbanised areas such as Camden, though the borough charges residents an average of £290 a year for a single parking permit.
The cheapest boroughs for a parking permit in London
Brent is the cheapest borough to park in London.
1. Brent, average annual permit cost: £31
Brent is by far the cheapest London borough when it comes to residential parking, with a permit costing an average of £31 annually, giving it the top spot for the factor. Compared to parking permits in the City of London (the most expensive London borough), parking permits in Brent are nearly 50 times cheaper.
2. Richmond Upon Thames & Havering, average annual permit cost: £80
Residential parking schemes are often criticised for reducing the number of on-street spaces by formalising the layout, which could be detrimental to a location. Fortunately, Richmond Upon Thames and Havering don’t charge too much for residential parking with permits costing an average of £80 a year, meaning they both share second place.
4. Ealing, average annual permit cost: £95
Residents in Ealing pay just £95 annually for a parking permit, making it London’s third cheapest Borough for residential parking.
Beginning with a list of the 32 biggest cities in the UK by population and each London borough (including The City of London), Moneybarn gathered data from each city and borough council’s website to find the annual parking permit prices for each location. For locations with multiple prices, an average was taken.
Data correct as of the 6th July 2023.
Note: The London Borough of Lewisham was excluded from the research as the council charges residents based on the emissions of their vehicles.