Leeds City Council raked in more than £4m in city centre car parking charges last year, despite having hundreds fewer spaces.
The number of available spaces in council run car parks in the heart of Leeds has gone down, yet the amount it costs to park has increased with varying charges within the city centre depending upon location.
Parking spaces around the centre, and in particular for those who commute by driving, are at a premium with more and more workers having to park further and further out of the centre.
Over this week the Yorkshire Evening Post will be running a series of articles focusing on the issues surrounding parking in the city centre, from charges to the effect it is having on small businesses.
At the end of the week we will be running an exclusive interview with Coun Richard Lewis, the Executive Member responsible for Regeneration, Transport and Planning on the council’s stance and long term proposals.
Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Evening Post via a Freedom of Information request show that for the 2016/17 financial year the council’s income through parking in the centre was £4,924000 and that at the start of that period there were 2346 parking spaces under the authority’s jurisdiction.
Two years prior to that the figures revealed that the council had 325 more spaces available yet made less money with the overall amount being £3,930,000 - £364,000 less than the latest figures.
The peak of parking in Leeds was ten years ago (2006/07) where there were 3215 parking spaces and the income generated was £4,836000.
However, it is in the period since then that 1,240 council owned spaces have been lost to re-development and private ownership, while more and more office and residential developments are springing up - causing commute chaos.
•March 2007, Civic Hall car park closes in March 2007 losing 176 spaces to make way for the Rose Bowl - a conferencing facility owned by Leeds Beckett University.
•August 2010, The Claypit Lane car park ceased operating and lost 275 spaces to what is now the firstdirect arena.
•August 2011, 50 spaces lost to what has since become an abandoned hotel development.
•January 2015, Queens Hall closed to become the Leeds office for the global audit, tax and advisory services firm. KPMG, at a cost of 414 spaces.
Later that year the council-owned car park at Union Street and George Street, which was near Kirkgate Market, closed to make way for the £165m Hammerson’s Victoria Gate development.
In the 12 months there have been a number of further planning applications or proposals put to the city council that involve car parks making way for re-development - notably high rise accommodation blocks with less spaces than there are dwellings.
In June proposals revealed the demolition of buildings at Crown Court and Kirkgate to make way for a residential and mixed use development at the car park at Crown Court. There would be just 28 spaces included in the new build.
The £300m Quarry Hill redevelopment, which over five years will see 515 apartments as well as a hotel and public realm created, is going to take over a site currently being used as a car park that is providing 417 spaces.
While the development in principle was largely welcomed when it was announced in September there are concerns about where the cars are going to go.
Gillian Radcliffe said: “I work on this site. Exciting development but worried about the loss of parking at Quarry Hill while neighbourhood population explodes.”
The former Tetley brewery site is currently being used as a car park, green-space and an ASDA training facility but is set to be redeveloped for residential, commercial and business.
And as the building boom makes a comeback in Leeds with major city centre schemes for residential and office blocks now being presented to the City Plans panel, the majority of developments have more people than parking spaces.
For example, work is underway to build accommodation for 180 students at Blenheim Walk, with no parking spaces allocated and over on the other side of the city, 101 apartments were given the go-ahead by the council’s planners despite also having no parking allocation.
The council says its long term plan for the city is to get cars out of the centre but the solution is not quick or easy.
Coun Lewis said: “We have to think about how the city works in the bigger picture. In the long term we don’t want people driving into the city centre, in the short term we can’t just say there is nowhere else to go.”
See tomorrow for what it costs to park and where.