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 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. They also analysed parking permit prices in each London borough to compare costs within the country’s most expensive city.
As annual residential permits in most council areas have different rates depending on the vehicle’s emissions and the different controlled parking zones, an average of the prices was taken.
The most expensive cities for a parking permit in the UK
Manchester is the most expensive city to park in the UK.
1. Manchester City Centre, average annual permit cost: £538
Manchester City Centre, the third largest city in England, recorded the steepest price for a residential parking permit compared to any other city, with an average cost of £538 per year. The reason for the city’s pricey premium could be to discourage residents from driving, thereby reducing traffic in the city. Permit prices outside of the city centre are likely to be less expensive. The more costly it is to park, the more likely people will choose a suitable public transport alternative.
Greater Manchester introduced a charging Clean Air Zone in May 2022 to meet the required air quality standards by 2026. Greater Manchester has around 360 EV charging points to encourage residents to make a greener choice on their commute.
2. Edinburgh City Centre, average annual permit cost: £365
Following behind Manchester is the Scottish city of Edinburgh, with an average cost for a residential parking permit costing £365 annually. The historical city promotes the use of electric vehicles and public transport.
Although the average cost for a residential parking permit in Edinburgh is high, this council has variable prices based on the car’s CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the central zones of the city will have a higher premium than the outer city zones.
3. Birmingham City Centre, average annual permit cost: £209
Birmingham City Centre ranked third, with an average annual cost of £209 for a residential parking permit. The local council has recently raised prices for city centre parking by up to 10%, following a yearly review. Due to this, more and more residents are taking advantage of the public transport network, using buses, trams, and trains.
The cheapest cities for a parking permit in the UK
Sunderland, Nottingham, Swansea, and Leeds are the cheapest cities to park in the UK.
The most expensive boroughs for a parking permit in London
Islington is the most expensive borough to park in in London.
1. Islington, average annual permit cost: £288
Residential parking permits mean reduced traffic on residential streets, as drivers with permits won’t have to spend time searching for a space. This reduction in traffic can help to improve air quality by reducing vehicle emissions. Although the average cost for a residential parking permit in Islington is the highest in London, it is worth noting they have variable prices based on the car’s CO2 emissions.
2. Lambeth, average annual permit cost: £270
Resident parking schemes offer motorists who don’t have access to off-street parking the opportunity to park closer to their homes, making parking more accessible and more convenient for drivers. This is especially useful in heavily urbanised areas such as Lambeth, though the borough charges residents an average of £270 a year for their first-year parking permit. Lambeth also bases its resident parking permit costs on vehicle emissions, so an average was taken across the prices.
3. Southwark, average annual permit cost: £263
Next is Southwark, with the borough’s residents paying an average of £263 for their first resident parking permit. Southwark Council introduced Car Clubs in 2022 to increase opportunities for everyone in the borough and make the area cleaner, greener, and safer. Residents can reserve a car with free fuel, insurance, and no congestion charges. Each car club vehicle aims to remove 26 privately owned vehicles from the road.
The cheapest boroughs for a parking permit in London
Brent is the cheapest borough to park in in London.
1. Brent, average annual permit cost: £31
Brent is the cheapest London borough for residential parking, with a permit costing an average of £31 annually, giving it the top spot. Compared to parking permits in Islington (the most expensive London borough on our list), parking permits in Brent are nearly ten times cheaper.
2. Kensington & Chelsea, average annual permit cost: £40
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, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea doesn’t charge too much for residential parking, with permits costing an average of £40 a year.
3. Barking & Dagenham, average annual permit cost: £53
Residents in Barking and Dagenham pay just £53 annually for a parking permit, making it London’s third-cheapest Borough for residential parking. Although some permit prices in Barking and Dagenham could be higher, we took an average across the different prices depending on the vehicle emissions.
Beginning with a list of the biggest cities in the UK by population and each London borough (excluding the City of London and Lewisham), Moneybarn gathered data from each city and borough council’s website to find the annual parking permit prices for each location.
As most council areas have different prices for their annual residential permits, an average of the costs was taken. The price for residential parking permits varies on various factors, including vehicle emissions and how many permits a resident has applied for.
Moneybarn’s research was based on first-time permit prices for those with petrol cars. Most councils have variable rates based on car emissions, so the average price was taken across the different figures. Furthermore, an average was taken for those areas with controlled parking zones (including zones in the city centre and outside the city centre).
This data is correct as of 10th August 2023.
Please note: UK and London Borough councils without annual residential permit prices available were removed from the research.