The state of parking across the UK’s cities and popular seaside towns in England and Wales.
Whether you’re using your vehicle for commuting or visiting your favourite attraction there’s nothing more frustrating than driving round endlessly in search of a parking space. This experience can be made even worse when travelling with children or pets in the vehicle, eager to escape and begin causing havoc!
The latest research from Bill Plant Driving School looks to ease the stress of parking by providing some much-needed insights into parking availability at some of the UK’s most popular destinations.
Whether you are an experienced driver or have only just taken driving lessons it is important to plan your journeys, especially when visiting popular destinations and this is guide is a great place to start. From the number of safe car parks and spaces available, to the percentage of disabled spaces and electric car charging points, keep reading as we reveal the states of parking across the UK.
- Norwich – overall score 7.87
If you are planning a trip to Norwich to visit the grand cathedral or take a stroll through the many gardens then you are in luck. The city of Norwich has been ranked as the best for parking, with 170.86 spaces per 1,000 licensed cars.
The city also ranks within the top ten for accessible spaces with 4.15% of the 8,942 spaces being reserved for those with disabilities. It also ranked well for the number of EV charging points available at the car parks we viewed, with a total of 20.
- Leicester – overall score 7.58
There are plenty of reasons to visit Leicester, whether it is to experience the National Space Centre, art gallery or because you’re simply commuting. The good news is that regardless of the reason – parking shouldn’t be an issue.
With 13,391 parking spaces available across 20 car parks you would think that Leicester would take the top spot. However, the city came in second place due to having just 12 EV charging points, 87.39 spaces per 1000 licensed cars and fewer disabled parking spaces than Norwich.
- Luton – overall score 7.58
In joint second position is Luton, home to many beautiful parks and gardens and one of the UK’s most populated cities. Whether visiting or a resident nipping into the centre you should have no trouble parking.
According to the research, the 20 car parks analysed have a combined 18,246 car parking spaces with 210.02 spaces per 1,000 licensed vehicles. These stats are an increase on those for Norwich and Leicester but only 2.33% of these are disabled parking spaces and there are only 4 EV charging points in the car parks analysed.
To discover how your closest city is ranked take a look below:
- Luton – 18,246 spaces
Ranking joint second overall and first for the number of spaces available is Luton. This city is located in the county of Bedfordshire and is the home of Luton Town Football Club. As well as having plenty of car parking spaces the area is home to several attractions including Stockwood Discovery Centre and Wrest Park, which are amongst the most popular places to visit.
- Crawley – 14,208 spaces
Crawley ranks in the second position for the number of spaces available at 14,208; there are 265.36 spaces per 1,000 licensed cars. This is great news if you are planning to visit Crawley for either work or leisure.
- Leicester – 13,391 spaces
Leicester ranked in third position overall, largely due to the number of spaces available across the 20 car parks analysed. There are plenty of reasons to visit Leicester and the roads are less crowded than in larger cities, which should make for a nice driving experience.
- Newcastle upon Tyne – 5.59% accessible parking spaces
When looking at the location with the most accessible parking spaces per total number of car parking spaces, Newcastle upon Tyne came out on top.
This university city is based in northeast England and is a popular place to visit and live. The research analysed 20 car parks in the city and found that there were 4,544 spaces, 254 of which are disabled parking spaces.
- Portsmouth – 5.51% accessible parking spaces
In the second position is Portsmouth which falls just short of Newcastle upon Tyne with 5.51% accessible parking spaces.
A drive along the coast of Portsmouth is scenic and when visiting there’s plenty of marine history to explore. Portsmouth fell short in the overall rankings due to there only being 4,410 parking spaces available across 20 car parks.
- Plymouth – 5.44% accessible parking spaces
Just behind Portsmouth is Plymouth with 5.44% accessible parking spaces out of 3,843 total spaces.
Known as Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth offers its visitors plenty to see and do both on and off the water. For those driving through there are lovely views of the ocean against the busy city backdrop.
Surprisingly, not all locations had EV charging points available within the car parks, perhaps this is something that will change in years to come. According to the research, Nottingham had the most charging points available within the car parks analysed with 44, followed by Ipswich with 33, and Norwich with 20.
- Weston-Super-Mare – overall score 8.22
In the first position is Weston-Super-Mare, a popular seaside town in England. The drive to Weston-Super-Mare can be smooth and simple with the town being easy to access. Once there, there is plenty to do including relaxing on the beach or taking a walk around the National Trust site of Sandy Bay.
According to the research, parking here is ample with 7,842 spaces across the 20 car parks analysed. When it comes to disabled spaces 9.95% of spaces are accessible. Due to high scores across the board, this location has come on top with an overall score of 8.22 out of 10.
- Netley – overall score 8.10
Second position is Netley, a quiet Hampshire coastal village. The beach offers great views of cruise ships passing to port in Southampton and is the perfect picnic spot. When it comes to parking the area has more spaces than Weston-Super-Mare with 10,843 and has plenty of disabled spaces at 420.
- East Cowes and Llandudno Junction – overall score 7.53
East Cowes takes the third position in our rankings, located on the Isle of Wight, making the driving experience slightly more adventurous than the other destinations. The beach town can be reached by ferry, which can take up to 60 minutes. Once there the parking is ample with 5,290 spaces across the 20 car parks viewed, 235 disabled spaces and an overall score of 7.53.
In joint third position is Llandudno in North Wales, this seaside town is picturesque with a Victorian-style pier and plenty of walks such as at the Great Orme Country Park. Driving to the coast can be a beautiful experience when taking the coastal road, alternatively, the A55 is a quicker route.
- Portishead – total parking spaces 19,958
With 19,958 parking spaces the coastal town of Portishead takes the top spot for the most spaces offered. The town is home to a marina and open-air pool, making it a great place for all to enjoy.
- Netley – total parking spaces 10,843
As well as taking first position overall this seaside town has the second most car parking spaces out of the 60 locations analysed. Whether working or visiting you won’t be lost for a parking space.
- Blyth – total parking spaces 7,894
Blyth is a working port in Northumberland, with spectacular views of the sea and a long industrial heritage. When visiting this beautiful part of the country there should be no issue parking with 7,894 spaces available.
- Netley – % of disabled spaces 8.64%
Featuring again is Netley with 8.64% of parking spaces being available for those with disabilities. This area is a popular place with locals and visitors alike due to the spectacular views across the Southampton water.
- Milford Haven – % of disabled spaces 7.31%
Milford Haven located in Pembrokeshire is nested on a natural harbour known as the Port of Milford Haven. This quaint town has come second on our list of coastal towns with the highest percentage of disabled parking spaces with 7.31% of total spaces being accessible.
2. Pembroke – % of disabled spaces 7.31%
Located in Wales is Pembroke which has the second highest percentage of disabled parking spaces, coming in a joint position with Milford Haven in the same county at 7.31%. As well as being home to plenty of wildlife and natural in-land spots, the county also has an amazing coastline to enjoy.
The UK has plenty of beautiful places to enjoy, whether visiting or commuting and the good news is that you shouldn’t be lost when finding a parking space. Be sure to plan your journey ahead of time including discovering the best place to park.
If you’re ready to start exploring the country but are yet to learn to drive then Bill Plant Driving School can help get you on the road.
To focus our research the 40 most populated cities in the UK were identified using World Population Review. Any cities where data was not available were removed, resulting in 35 cities being analysed, to ensure a fair scoring system.
The 60 seaside towns/villages in England and Wales analysed were found to have the highest population growth rate according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) source. Seaside towns in Scotland and Northern Ireland were not included due to a lack of available data.
Using the British Parking Association (BPA) car park finder the number of public safe car parks in each city of the UK and coastal locations were revealed. Any cities that do not have BPA-registered car parks were not included in the research. Police, hospital and university car parks or other car parks that are not open to the public were not included in the data.
From here the number of parking spaces and disabled spaces were noted, with the % of disabled spaces available being calculated.
In order to put the city figures into perspective, population figures for each city from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) were used along with vehicle licencing details.
The main limitation of this data is that it focuses only on BPA-approved car parks, but this does include large car park brands such as NCP and Q Park.