City Science was commissioned by Exeter City Council to produce a Parking Study for the City. The central aim of this Study was to balance the ambitions of several strategic documents, including the Liveable Exeter Vision, Net Zero Exeter 2030 Plan, Exeter Transport Strategy and the emerging Exeter Plan, with the need to maintain or grow income generation to support key services. Crucially, these strategic documents focused on reducing the dominance of cars, to support several sustainable objectives including increasing active travel, promoting city vitality and achieving net zero.
The key focus of this Study was off-street parking owned by Exeter City Council, on-street facilities operated by Devon County Council, and the three Park & Ride (P&R) sites (two owned by Devon County Council and one owned by Exeter City Council).
Baseline Review We undertook an initial comprehensive baseline review of parking in the City, this included:
Existing Parking Capabilities: Analysis of current demand and usage, revenue generation and the approach to car park zoning to understand the current parking context
Policy Review: An in-depth review of relevant national, regional and local policy and strategies, ensuring the Study was aligned with the current political landscape and future ambitions
Parking Innovation: A high-level peer city parking tariff and best-practice review, including outlining innovations in parking management
We worked extensively with the Council to identify seven core Study parking principles, that provided a foundation of parking options and solutions, that deliver upon the wider vision of Exeter City Council. These included Net Zero, Traffic & Travel, Future Development, Revenue Generation, Parking Integration, City Vitality and Health & Wellbeing.
Forecasting Future Demand
To future proof the Study, we explored the city’s potential future parking needs and the anticipated impact on capacity. We produced forecasts of future parking demand across three scenarios:
Core: Reflects national, regional and local committed and funded policies are implemented
Behaviour Change: Increased flexible working and reduced rates of driving in young people
High Growth: High population and employment growth
These scenarios were applied to test 10 various option packages (including tariff changes), to identify their impact on parking capacity. In parallel, to align with the local context, we assumed that car parks highlighted for potential repurposing in the emerging Exeter Plan and Exeter Housing & Employment Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) may be delivered, over three key timescales – in either the short-, medium- or long-term. We identified opportunities to mitigate the impact of potential closures including sustainable mode shift and increased use of existing park and ride facilities. We also conducted a qualitative appraisal of wider car park improvement options (e.g. emissions based tariffs), assessing the ability of these to meet strategic objectives.
Parking Option Development & Appraisal
Our approach to option development was evidence-led and informed by a three-stage process including our baseline report findings, desktop reviews (e.g. tariffs, flows, signage) and extensive stakeholder engagement. We applied a bespoke multi-criteria assessment framework (MCAF), co-developed in close collaboration with Exeter City Council and steering group, to prioritise the initial long list and identify the parking options that aligned closely with the strategic vision of the City. The options were further categorised and themed according to their primary focus. These themes were: Active Travel Integration, Alternative Use, Information & Awareness, Parking Tariffs & Ticketing, Public Transport Integration and Safety, Accessibility & Car Park Standards.
Extensive stakeholder engagement was embedded into our approach, to ensure the needs and views of key stakeholders were reflected and accounted for, whilst also securing wider buy-in to support successful delivery of the options. We held various engagement sessions across key project stages with external and internal stakeholders, including a series of workshops, 1-1 meetings with Exeter City and Devon County Council alongside wider stakeholders (such as Stagecoach, Network Rail, private car park operators in the city and local businesses) to shape the approach.
Alongside helping the Council understand the potential impact of the emerging Exeter Plan, we worked collaboratively with key stakeholders to develop 44 deliverable parking options relating to parking bays. The options developed include improving or developing active travel infrastructure, repurposing car park capacity to support wider city objectives (such as public realm improvements) and renewable energy generation, exploring changes to parking tariffs, and integrating and improving P&R services.
To further support delivery, we identified key roles and responsibilities across the public, private and transport sector, assigning relevant stakeholders responsibility for progressing each option. Broader opportunities that emerged from this Study were also identified including the development of a Parking Action Plan to accelerate delivery.
The Study is currently going through the internal approval processes.
“Exeter City Council commissioned City Science to prepare a data-driven Car Parking Strategy to support a range of corporate outcomes. We were impressed with City Science’s work ethic and commitment to robust assessment. Milestones were met to time and budget and the quality of their work was excellent. It was a pleasure to work with them.” Katharine Smith, Principal Project Manager – Local Plans, Exeter City Council.