A consultation is to be held regarding possible ways of improving parking management in East Lothian.

Proposals are to be focused on delivering a more attractive and safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists whilst providing parking facilities that support economic, environmental and accessibility requirements in town centres.

A paper considered at today’s meeting of East Lothian Council suggested that the consultation could seek views on parking policies described under the Local Transport Strategy, including the potential introduction of charging for on and off street spaces and the expansion and introduction of residential parking zones.

Local Transport Strategy

East Lothian Council’s Local Transport Strategy, endorsed in 2018, aims to have well-connected communities with increased use of sustainable transport modes to access services and amenities.

The associated Parking Management Strategy aims to provide balanced and appropriate parking facilities.

An amendment to the Local Transport Strategy, agreed by Councillors in 2018, noted:

“The Council will assess the demand on town centre parking supply and appraise on an individual town-by-town basis, taking into account the views of local people and, where appropriate, the Council will introduce charging for off-street car parks and/or on-street parking places. All proposals for the introduction of charging for off-street car parks and/or on-street parking places will be brought to a meeting of East Lothian Council for approval.

“The primary view of the Council is not to charge for off-street car parks and/or on-street parking places; however, schemes will be permitted on an individual basis if need and local support for such a proposal can be demonstrated. All parking regimes would require regular monitoring.”

There have since been a number of developments in relation to national, regional and local transport, policies and strategies since.

East Lothian, meanwhile, is one of Scotland’s fastest growing areas. The population is forecast to grow by 23.3% between 2012 and 2037. The number of single-occupancy households is predicted to increase by 70% with inward migration from Edinburgh. In 2011, car ownership per household was 1:1.  In 2018, 599 cars were registered per 1000 residents. It is predicted East Lothian’s population by 2026 will increase to 113,048, equivalent to 67,715 cars.

Town centre first principle and tackling our climate emergency

Central government and local authorities are expected to put the health of town centres at the centre of decision-making. This should include the wellbeing of its people, inclusive economic growth, the transition to net zero and tackling inequality.

Vibrancy and vitality of town centres can be achieved through improved safety and accessibility, with safer streets for walking and cycling encouraging a shift from car journeys to active and sustainable travel where possible. Turn-over of spaces delivered through parking management arrangements is instrumental to creating parking space availability. People are able to access potentially more sustainable goods and services locally. Availability of short stay parking is beneficial to business.

On and off street parking

As part of possible improved parking management arrangements, it is proposed to investigate options as appropriate for new parking supply allowing for, compensatory capacity, sustainability and alternative transport modes where appropriate.

If considered appropriate, any development of charging arrangements will be focussed around town centres and off street provision. This will include the recognition and importance of residential parking.

Previous surveys and interventions

Detailed traffic and parking survey has been carried out in North Berwick to understand the level of turnover within on- and off-street parking facilities. 

A number of parking management interventions were implemented within the town as part of the Spaces for People programme and to aid with increased summer visitors. Certain waiting restrictions were implemented in off-street facilities close to the town centre which were well received by the community. Residential parking demand continues to be a major source of frustration for the town’s residents, particularly in and around the main town centre and beach front areas.

Analysis has shown that the parking turnover, occupancy levels and duration of stay were all improved in 2021 when compared with 2019. Improved efficiency and vibrancy of the town is greatly aided through greater parking management and availability.

Traffic and parking surveys have also been carried out in Dunbar, Tranent and Prestonpans.  A survey in Haddington is still to be determined as East Lothian Council, a major employer and obvious influence on town parking, was until recently operating under emergency contingency arrangements.

Consultation proposal

To gauge public opinion and acceptability of interventions necessary to balance complexities and requirements of town centre parking, Councillors have agreed that a consultation will be held for 10 weeks, starting later this summer. This will be supported by a review and refresh of the local transport strategies, taking proper appreciation and consideration of the needs of climate change, as well as the impact of road users, including public transport operators, disabled motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

The planned consultation will include a problem and opportunity assessment, consultation of possible parking designs by way of mitigation across the six main settlements within the county. The consultation will seek to understand the level of service, parking enforcement priorities, time, season and place constraints, parking space balance and use, scope and scale, and reasonable charge.

Officers are expected to report back on the outcome of the consultation later in the year. More information will be provided in due course.

Published: Tuesday, 28th June 2022