It could be all change at car parks in the Dorset Council area next year.
As part of the Parking Transformation project, which seeks to standardise car park prices, the Council wants to know what residents think about a new car park permit that is being developed.
The proposed three tier pricing structure for car parks differentiates between rural, coastal and town, and the seasonal nature of car parks at popular visitor destinations. It aims to bring consistency to charging across Dorset Council car parks – where charges currently span from free to £9 all day.
Level one pricing, in smaller more rural car parks, is proposed to start at 50p for 30 minutes and rise incrementally to £4 for all day.
Level two pricing, in market towns and shopping destination car parks, is proposed to start at 50p for 30 minutes and will have slightly higher incremental rises up to £6 for all day.
Level three pricing, in visitor destination car parks, is proposed to have the same pricing as Level Two car parks in the low season. In the high season (1 April to 31 October), prices are proposed to start at £1 for 30 minutes and rise incrementally up to £10 for all day.
As part of this work, a single car park permit is proposed for drivers living and working in Dorset. This would replace the 76 different permits currently available across the county, covering the old district and borough local authority areas.
The proposed annual residents, workers and businesses car park permit would allow drivers to park in specified Dorset Council car parks throughout the year. A residents’ survey has been launched to inform the cost and offer of the permit, with the proposed price to be confirmed once feedback has been analysed, and costs calculated. Monthly payments are also being considered to help spread the cost.
Dorset’s town and parish councillors, and community representatives participating in stakeholder groups, are being asked to comment on the proposed tiered car park pricing structure, while the permit survey is open to everyone to ensure plans take into account the views of Dorset’s motorists, as well as specific, local knowledge on parking.
Comments on the proposals will be reviewed and incorporated into the plans, where appropriate. The project team hopes to present the final proposals to Dorset Council Place and Resources Overview Committee in October and to Cabinet in November – with a view to introduce new parking charges in January 2022.
Cllr Ray Bryan, portfolio holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “We want a pricing strategy that works for as many people as possible and brings consistency in parking charges across the Dorset Council area. We also want to mitigate the impact of any price changes on Dorset’s residents, workers, and shoppers by offering discounted parking through a new permit.
“We’ve worked extremely hard on benchmarking our prices and checking the cost of parking when compared to our neighbours and similar locations. This included looking at prices in the BCP area, as well as in visitor destinations like Torquay and Weston-Super-Mare.
“We’re trying to get the right balance so that costs are not so high that our car parks are under-used and people are pushed into parking on residential roads, but not so low that drivers cannot find a space to park or choose to drive rather than using a more sustainable form of travel.
“We also want our peak season charges to be aimed at visitors by making them comparable to prices at similar destinations in the south. Our proposed Dorset parking permit will protect our residents and workers from paying these higher prices.
“We’ll be gathering comments from residents, stakeholder groups, parish and town councillors and Dorset Council members, so please take the time to complete the permit survey and/or speak with your local town, parish or Dorset councillor to find out more about this work developing the new parking charges.”
The scale of increase in parking prices will vary for each individual driver, depending on the car park being used and the duration of stay.
Proposals are also for on-street parking changes to be made more consistent, following the same three-tier approach. These spaces will be charged at a higher price than compared to the same tier car park price. This is to generate a higher turnover of cars for the spaces, meaning more people can better access local businesses etc. for shorter durations.
Waivers can still be purchased for tradespeople who need to park for work. Blue badges will be reviewed separately to these proposals, as will health care permits.
Anyone wishing to provide feedback on the proposed parking permit should complete the survey at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/parking-permit-survey or speak to their local town or parish council.
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