Councils have been pushed to support car drivers in town centres by creating more parking spaces and restricting use of road humps.
Planning practice guidance set to be published this week will encourage local authorities to recognise the role that appropriate parking facilities and uncluttered streets can play in town centre rejuvenation.
Sustainable travel plans should not be used as ‘an excuse’ for unfairly penalising drivers and removing support for cars, online guidance will warn, while unnecessary clutter such as parking bollards and road humps should also be avoided.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has urged councils to avoid using planning rules to tax drivers or justify unsuitable traffic calming measures.
Town centre parking must be convenient, safe and secure, guidance will outline, while charges and enforcement must remain appropriate.
Research from the Association of Town and City Management recently warned that aggressive municipal parking policies were stifling local trade by pushing shoppers away from commercial areas.
Announcing the guidance, local government minister Eric Pickles said: ‘Trying to find somewhere to park has been an obstacle course in too many of our towns, cities and seaside resorts.
‘Confusing and difficult car parking practices are undermining the economic vitality of the high street and tourist destinations. Over-zealous parking wardens have been inflicting real damage on local economies and given many towns and councils a bad name.
‘Town halls need to ditch their anti-car dogma. Making it easier to park will help support local shops, local jobs and tourism.’