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Hounslow takes forward workplace parking levy, and plans a second scheme

13 September 2019

The London Borough of Hounslow is pressing ahead with a plan for a workplace parking levy (WPL) in part of the borough, despite opposition from employers. It is also to start work on plans for a levy in an adjoining part of the borough.

Hounslow consulted last winter on a proposed WPL for the western end of the ‘Great Western Corridor’ in Brentford, which is designated as an ‘opportunity area’ for housing and employment growth.

The levy would cover the ‘Golden Mile’ area of the A4 Great West Road, broadly between Gillette Corner and Boston Manor Road (LTT 20 Aug & 23 Nov 18). The zone encompasses broadcaster Sky’s UK headquarters and premises of -healthcare giant GlaxoSmithKline. Other large employers include JC Decaux, Days Aggregates, Metroline, and Allianz. An estimated 4,200 workplace parking spaces are located in the zone.

Hounslow says the primary purpose of the levy will be to provide a stable revenue stream against which the council can borrow to deliver transport improvements. The main project Hounslow wants to deliver is a passenger service over the three-mile freight-only railway between  Brentford and Southall. A Brentford Golden Mile station will be built. Passengers will be able to interchange at Southall with Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) services. Improvements to bus services, active travel routes and public realm could also be delivered.

Mark Frost, Hounslow’s head of traffic and transport, told councillors last week that employers were “unanimously opposed” to the proposal. 

“Employers did not believe that Hounslow had presented sufficient information or evidence to justify the scheme,” he said. Concerns had also been raised about the levy’s economic impact and the impact on employees if employers passed the charge on. 

“Employers also questioned if the scheme should be extended to cover a wider area… since the benefits of the new transport infrastructure would not be limited to the area proposed,” said Frost. “Whilst it was generally accepted that the area was in need of public transport improvements, employers believe there would only be minimal benefit for their staff due to the wide spread of home locations.”

Hounslow says the earliest the WPL can be implemented is 2021. To try and quell employers’ concerns, the borough is proposing a graduated approach to the   levy, linking rises as far as practicable to the commencement date of transport improvements. 

The borough has estimated that the levy could raise net income of £44m over 25 years if spaces were charged at £500 a year, £70m if charged at £750, and £95m if charged at £1,000. 

Transport for London’s draft guidance for boroughs preparing workplace parking levy schemes suggests a minimum charge of £750 (LTT 02 Aug).

Hounslow will draw up a  business case ahead of a public consultation on the scheme order in winter 2020/21. The council must then apply to the mayor of London and the secretary of state for transport for permission to implement the scheme.

Frost said that, as the scheme will be relatively small, one option would be to appoint Nottingham City Council to manage the scheme. Nottingham is the only authority currently operating a WPL and has expressed interest in running schemes on other councils’ behalf (LTT 07 Jun). 

Councillors last week approved the preparation of a second workplace parking levy scheme covering the adjoining eastern area of the Great Western Corridor opportunity area. This could cover an area encompassing Kew Bridge station, Gunnersbury station (on the eastern boundary), and the proposed Lionel Road station. The latter would form part of a West London Orbital passenger service being championed by boroughs that would make use of some existing freight-only lines (LTT 05 Mar 18). 

An initial consultation on the second WPL scheme is planned for 2020/21, with implementation possible in 2023.

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