Parking in Tunbridge Wells has become a major headache for motorists as demand for spaces soar
With costs for traditional parking in the town set to hit record highs, coupled with an ongoing decline in spaces, visiting and working in town is becoming increasingly troublesome.
Now national companies are helping householders rent out empty driveways to motorists, targeting Royal Tunbridge Wells as a ‘top priority’.
Charles Cridland, Technical Director and Co-founder of the online driveway rental service YourParkingSpace, said: “We are working on recruiting new spaces and Tunbridge Wells is our big focus now”, adding that the town is quickly becoming one of their ‘most popular’ areas outside of London.
These peer-to-peer parking platforms match drivers with spaces, and the sites operate through service fees automatically added on top of the rental price. This charge is paid by the driver and will typically be around 20 per cent of the overall price, however it can alter depending on location and other factors.
Statistics from one online driveway rental service reveal that the number of spaces registered online in this area has jumped from six to 22 since the beginning of the year – a rise of 266 per cent.
However, despite the number of private spaces available increasing, demand continues to far outstrip supply, with one website recording in excess of 1,500 searches for parking spaces per month within Tunbridge Wells alone.
The Times identified over 30 spaces utilising the service across a range of websites, with some listings starting at as little as £2.50 for a day, and numbers are growing.
Figures released by Just Park show the average space owner in Tunbridge Wells currently earns £345 per year, rising to £500 per annum for the most prime locations. Homeowners list their space online for free, set what times they wish to rent out their space and payments are sent straight to their account via PayPal.
Pricing is decided by the owner and rates typically increase dependent on proximity to desirable locations – namely the centre of town and the train station.
The collective income of space owners in the town using Just Park has rocketed from £488 two years ago to over £2,700 so far this year – a rise of 502 per cent.
Drivers are moving towards this ‘rent-a-drive’ alternative after spikes in rates make parking increasingly expensive, a situation which will be made worse if the council’s proposal to increase charges by 29 per cent gets given the green light.
The problem has also been compounded with plans to cut the number of on-road spaces in favour of increasing the amount of ‘permit holder only’ zones across the borough.
In addition, there are further proposals that could see Linden Park Road car park sold off for redevelopment, a move which will result in the loss of 37 spaces, and with the average price per month reaching £102.47 for regular parking, drivers are quickly running out of options.
William Read, who commutes into Tunbridge Wells, claims finding reasonable parking is becoming ‘ridiculously difficult’. Due to the nature of his profession, easy to access to his vehicle throughout the day is necessary, but finds the parking in town can be ‘extortionate’. He said: “If the option is there to pay less for a private space then obviously I’m going to choose that over paying more for a tiny bay in a crowded car park.”
Average Price Comparison with Regular Car parks: (sources: council website and National Rail website)
JustPark (22 Spaces Total)
Average price p/day: £4.23
Average price p/month: £76.04
YourParkingSpace (18 Spaces Total)
Average price p/day: £3.73
Average price p/month: £97.96
Tunbridge Wells car parks
Average Price p/day: £8
Average Price p/month: £102.47
The sharing economy
Websites like YourParkingSpace and Just Park are players in the relatively new ‘sharing economy’ concept, built upon the idea of sharing underutilised resources, like parking spaces, cars and spare rooms.
Though the sharing industry is currently in its infancy, it looks only to sustain growth. Major groups in the trend like Uber and Airbnb are leading the way, expanding their reach and market valuations. Airbnb shows results for over 300 spaces registered in Tunbridge Wells alone.