Whitehall guidance encouraging town halls to impose higher parking charges is being scrapped as ministers pledge to end the “war on the motorist”.
Councils will now be able to price parking spaces competitively to attract drivers into town centres, Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said.
Under transport planning guidance, local authorities have until now been required to set parking charges in a way that encourages people to use alternative forms of transport.
The Government believes that that policy – introduced by Labour in 2001 – unfairly punished motorists when cars are a lifeline for many people. The coalition’s emphasis instead is on promoting “sustainable green motoring”.
Ministers are also abolishing rules limiting the number of parking spaces for new homes.
Mr Pickles said: “Whitehall’s addiction to micromanagement has created a parking nightmare with stressed-out drivers running a gauntlet of unfair fines, soaring charges and a total lack of residential parking.
“The result is our pavements and verges crammed with cars on curbs endangering drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, increased public resentment of over-zealous parking wardens and escalating charges and fines.
“The Government is calling off Whitehall’s war on the motorist by scrapping the national policy restricting residential parking spaces and instructing councils to push up charges. We expect councils to follow suit.”
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said it was “pessimistic” and “outdated” to say that only by forcing people out of their cars could carbon emissions be cut.
“This Government recognises that cars are a lifeline for many people – and that by supporting the next generation of electric and ultra-low emission vehicles, it can enable sustainable green motoring to be a long-term part of Britain’s future transport planning,” he said.