Protecting the environment

Support for the Council’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2030 will include measures to encourage travel by modes other than private car and to reduce the detrimental impact on the local environment caused by motor vehicle traffic.

The historic core, containing four Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs), will be a particular area of focus. Over the last five years many London boroughs have introduced differential charges for those driving vehicles with higher carbon outputs for residential permits. A number apply additional levies or higher tariffs for their car parks and on-street parking for vehicles with a higher carbon rating or diesel engines.

In 2018, Cambridge implemented a parking congestion charge by application of a higher rate tariff for those beginning a parking session in the city centre car parks between 8 and 10 am.

Colchester will seek to adopt and develop a similar approach of using parking charges to encourage alternative travel choices. Supplementary parking charges may be applied to the car parks that are within higher density areas, for locations that are well served by more sustainable alternatives, for access or egress at peak times when the travel will contribute to traffic congestion, and to those vehicles that are more polluting.

The strategic approach is not to prevent those choosing to drive from doing so. It will encourage drivers to consider, more favourably, other options: to park outside the town centre; to use park and ride; or choose another mode of travel, such as walking, cycling or taking a bus. The charges applied will be predetermined and additive; they will not be dynamic nor intended to present drivers with a surprise.

As the town develops and consistent with plans to reduce town centre traffic congestion, there may be a progressive reduction in the available capacity to park cars in the town centre (see Principle 6 of the Healthier Air for Colchester report).

It will remain important that shoppers and those visiting the town for personal business, and to access goods and services are able to do so. However, the general approach will mean that those wishing to benefit from the high access and convenience afforded by the parking closest to the commercial areas, and who impose an environmental and social cost when they do so, may expect to pay a higher charge. The strategy will see much of the long stay parking moved further from the town centre.

Further options to enable Secured Resident off-street parking for those living in the town and seeking additional parking beyond that available to them within their curtilage or locally on-street will be developed. Charges will reflect the service provided and may include a pledged levy to support Car Clubs and other cleaner transport modes.

Measures will also be applied to other parking in the town to ensure that the approach is consistent and so that overall outcomes can be delivered.

The Council will seek to control the charges applied by third party public car parks. This will be achieved through acquisition, the application of planning conditions or licensing. The Council will also look to incorporate the park and ride into its management. This will enable price setting and financing of the park and ride to be integrated as part of the overall parking strategy for the town.

Colchester has some significant parking areas provided by employers for staff. Many of these are within the commercial centre of the town and/ or contribute to generating significant peak period congestion. A workplace parking levy was introduced in Nottingham in 2012. It placed an annual charge on employers based on the quantity of parking spaces they made available to employees. Money raised from the scheme has been pledged into other transport schemes including, in particular, accelerating the delivery of phase 2 of the tram system. Colchester will seek to introduce a similar levy.

Removing the requirement for new housing developments to provide a minimum amount of in-curtilage car parking increases the options for sites to bring forward attractive accommodation at higher densities. Unbundling the parking from the accommodation means that housing is more affordable for those willing or wanting to live without car parking. Such developments are supportive of lifestyles that are less reliant on car use and thus aligned with aims to reduce carbon emissions. Colchester’s current planning conditions permit car-free developments in suitable locations.

Application of lower in-curtilage parking requirements are subject to ensuring that sufficient restrictions are in place to prevent residents anyway acquiring cars that they then park on-street. This may create or exacerbate parking issues for the local community. A number of authorities support car-free developments where on-street parking is controlled and the development, and all subsequent occupants, can be excluded from the residents’ parking scheme.

New developments may be required to provide or increase the quantities of other parking, to support increased cycling and car sharing.

Page last reviewed: 15 May 2023