Drivers feel the squeeze on parking

The average amount of space for parking in residential areas has shrunk by 9% in the last 10 years.

Yet the number of cars has grown 15% over the last decade and vehicles are getting bigger, a survey covering England by car insurance company LV= showed.

In the years from 2001 to 2011, motorists in England have seen the space available for parking near their homes decrease from just over 32ft to 29ft 5in. During that time the number of cars in England has grown 15% and the average car is now around 14ft 1in long - about six inches more than 10 years ago.

Westminster in central London has the smallest amount of parking space - just 14ft 2in per car - which represents a 21% shrinkage since 2001, LV= said. Outside London, the least amount of resident parking space per vehicle is to be found in Harlow in Essex; in the Hertfordshire towns of Stevenage, Broxbourne and Watford; and in Slough in Berkshire.

The survey also showed that since 2008, a total of 27% of English councils have increased the cost of residential parking permits. As many as 9% of car owners have to pay for the right to park outside their home, paying an average of £96 per year.

The most expensive permits were in Birmingham (£785), Canterbury in Kent (£511) and Poole in Dorset (£440), with residential parking permits netting councils more than £47.8 million in 2011 alone.

LV= said information obtained by a freedom of information request found that eight councils admitted residents had had to wait over a year for a parking permit in their area.

In the Mid Devon District Council area, one motorist waited 2,920 days (eight years) for a parking permit. Other long waits were in Canterbury City Council (2,218 days), Bristol City Council (1,765 days) and Uttlesford District Council in Essex (1,335 days).

The survey showed 11% of drivers said they had parked illegally near their home because there was not space for them and around a third of these illegal parkers were fined as a result, paying an average of £92 each in fines.

LV= car insurance managing director John O'Roarke said: "Motorists are becoming increasingly squeezed when it comes to parking and in some areas the average space available is only a few centimetres longer than the average car. When space is particularly tight, drivers must take greater care when parking to avoid damaging their own car or those around them and risking expensive repairs or a claim against them."