North Yorkshire County and Harrogate Borough councils will launch the country’s first ‘smart parking’ town in Harrogate from November 1, which will see parking partly managed by 1,600 surface-mounted BlueTooth sensors in all street parking bays and off-street surface level car parks.
While drivers will still be able to pay by the hour at parking payment machines, those with the AppyParking phone app will not have to predict how long they will be in the bay and the session automatically ends when the car leaves the bay.
The app will also help motorists to identify parking availability and cost, enabling drivers to navigate the most efficient route to the parking space that suits their needs and avoid areas where there is no available parking.
A report to leading county council members states: “According to research conducted by the British Parking Association, the average time motorists spend looking for a space is 5.9 minutes, adding up to a total of 90.5 hours – or four days – spent searching for a parking spot over a year.”
The report added: “Car manufacturers are also working towards integrating smart parking within their vehicles. Evidence suggests that UK-wide implementation is inevitable.”
The county’s highways boss, Councillor Don Mackenzie, said paying by minute was fairer for motorists and the system had the potential to reduce congestion and pollution, support the visitor economy and enhance shoppers’ experiences.
He said it would be up to other districts and boroughs in the county to decide if they wanted to introduce the technology, which will be funded by Visa and AppyParking in Harrogate to the tune of £200,000.
After members agreed a revised scheme to introduce smart parking trial in Harrogate for 18 months, Cllr Mackenzie said: “The visitor economy is very competitive and any new idea can only help – it is another unique selling point they can stress.”