The 2012 study involved looking at the evidence from academic and reports from foundations, industry associations and public agencies, such as Transport for London.
In addition, a questionnaire was sent out to all London boroughs, requesting data on parking supply, charging and town centre economic indicators, such as footfall (number of visitors), empty retail units, business turnover and the rate of change in businesses in two town centre areas.
Finally, data from market research carried out with shoppers at 3 outer London based shopping centres was analysed.
the main findings were as follows:
More parking does not necessarily mean greater commercial success.
A well managed parking scheme, where spaces ‘turn over’ frequently can help to increase the number of visitors coming to a town centre and thereby help business.
There is no such thing as ‘free’ parking.
The costs of developing and maintaining parking spaces and then enforcing proper use to ensure good traffic flow have to be borne by somebody. In the case of local authority operated parking (on street or off street) any costs that are not covered by parking revenue falls to local Council Tax payers.
Shopkeepers consistently overestimate the share of their customers coming by car.
In some cases, this is by a factor of as much as 400%. In London, as well as other cities, the share of those accessing urban centres on foot or by public transport is much greater.
Walking is the most important mode for accessing local town centres..
Car drivers spend more on a single trip; walkers and bus users spend more over a week or a month.
In 2011, in London town centres, walkers spent £147 more per month than those travelling by car. Compared with 2004, spending by public transport users and walkers has risen; spending by car users and cyclists has decreased.
A good mix of shops and services and a quality environment are some of the most important factors in attracting visitors to town centres.
If both these are poor, then changes to parking or accessibility are very unlikely to make a town centre more attractive.
There is very little evidence of the impacts of parking on the night time economy.
This is an area that needs more research.
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