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Finding solutions to a particularly difficult and challenging car parking situation that has built up over many years

There can be few issues more likely to engender an opinion than car parking; a necessity but rarely with an easy solution. Bringing together our expertise in research; data analysis and modelling; and understanding of the issues both specific and in the wider economic context, can help you find the right solutions.

Key benefits:

  • Quantified measures to inform car parking strategy development;
  • detailed picture of visitor patterns to Yarm and an understanding of barriers and attractions to visiting the town;
  • impact of car parking put within the wider context;
  • impact of possible future scenarios assessed, providing guidance on changes to optimise the potential of Yarm town centre

Our Assigment

Yarm, with its cosmopolitan feel and variety of attractions makes it a very popular town with both locals and visitors alike. This popularity has resulted in a long history of traffic congestion and parking problems.


The study determined the catchment area for Yarm and quantified visitor patterns and their modes of transport.
While a range of ratings for Yarm were strong, affirming its popularity, car parking in Yarm was considered to be poor by over half of those within the catchment area. Furthermore car parking emerged as a notable restriction on both frequency of visit to Yarm and whether people visit at all. By making comparisons with other comparable local towns the influence of car parking provision on visitor patterns was further reinforced and quantified.
Almost half of those who visit Yarm had at some time not been able to get parked on arrival, with one in ten visitors indicating that this was something that happened often. Simulation models were able to determine that around 4%-5% of all attempted visits to Yarm resulted in the visitor not being able to get parked. Furthermore, this likelihood to not get parked was also quantified across different times of the day, identifying key times when parking is particularly difficult.
Of just under 700 car parking spaces in Yarm town centre, just over half were being taken daily by those who work in the businesses on the High Street. With usage of spaces by staff to the point that it is acting as a limiting restriction on the number of visitors to Yarm town centre, the estimated cost of each space used was determined to be around £20k-£40k of consumer spend a year. In addition to the direct loss of spend from abandoned visits, the lack of availability of car parking is also acting as a dampener on the frequency of visits to Yarm. The estimated potential for growth is 15%, if this barrier were removed.
In order to satisfy demand and accommodate the full attractiveness of Yarm as a visitor destination will require freeing up the equivalent of around 80-100 spaces. While the availability of spaces is the main issue, for a minority of visits, the need to have spaces available that can accommodate stays of over 2 hours (Yarm High Street currently operates a two-hour restricted disc zone) also needs to be factored into the plan.


The study provided, for the first time, a detailed picture of visitor patterns to Yarm and an understanding of barriers and attractions to visiting the town. This enabled the impact of car parking to be put within the wider context and help quantify its current impact on the High Street. It highlighted for the first time the impact of commuter parking and the paradox created of staff parking acting as a restriction on visitors and consequently consumer spend.
Not only was the current situation quantified in detail, but through the use of simulation modelling techniques the impact of other scenarios were assessed, providing guidance on changes to optimise the potential of Yarm town centre

Our Approach

A range of data collection methodologies were implemented to gather primary data from visitors, non-visitors and businesses in Yarm. The research consisted of three main components: a telephone survey of adults living within a defined catchment area; and on-street survey of visitors in the town centre; face-to-face interviews among business owner/managers on the High Street and taxi drivers.
In addition to the primary research undertaken, data from a traffic count survey undertaken previously by Stockton Borough Council was also used in the analysis and interpretation

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