House of Commons Library

Pavement and on-street parking in England

Published Monday, November 9, 2015

This paper outlines the general legal position on what is colloquially called ‘pavement parking’ and the measures available to the police and local authorities to tackle it.

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The term ‘pavement parking’ can be confusing as it can be used to describe a range of practices – from on-street parking at the side of the road, to parking either partially or entirely on the pavement. For the purposes of this paper, ‘pavement’ parking is used to describe parking where one or more wheels of a vehicle are on the pavement; other parking at the side of the road is described as ‘on-street’ parking.

There is no national prohibition against either on-street or pavement parking except in the latter case in London and more widely in relation to heavy commercial vehicles.

However, it is an offence to drive onto the pavement, whether with intention to park or not. Because this is a criminal offence, as opposed to the vast majority of civil parking offences, it is enforceable by the police, not the local authority. There have long been concerns about the extent to which this is enforced.

Local authorities and the police may act to tackle on-street and pavement parking in various ways, such as under legislation governing obstruction and dangerous parking; designating limited areas of ‘no pavement parking’ through a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO); or establishing a special parking area.

Recently there have been campaigns to introduce a complete civil ban on pavement parking, enforceable by local authorities. Pavement parking causes an obstruction to pedestrians and particular difficulties for blind and partially-sighted people, wheelchair and mobility scooter users and those with pushchairs and prams. This has led to a number of Private Members’ Bills being introduced in Parliament to provide to some degree wider control over pavement parking. The most recent of these was Simon Hoare’s Pavement Parking (Protection of Vulnerable Pedestrians) Bill 2015-16, which was debated in the House of Commons on 4 December 2015.

Information on other parking-related matters can be found on the Roads Topical Page of the Parliament website.

Commons Briefing papers SN01170

Author: Louise Butcher

Topic: Roads

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