Decision details

Pay & Conserve, Car Park Charging on the Countryside Estate

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: Recommmend Forward to Council

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes




The Cabinet agreed that:


1.     Charging is introduced at 15 car parks across the 5 busiest sites as set out in Option 5 in paragraph 35 of the submitted report.

2.     Income from car park charging is ring-fenced for the benefit of the Surrey Countryside Estate.

3.     The tariffs are agreed as set out in paragraph 21 of the submitted report and thereafter forms part of the annual review process for fees and charges.

Reasons for Decisions


In order to ensure a secure future for the Countryside Estate in the stewardship of the County Council and Surrey Wildlife Trust, a steady revenue stream is critical.  SWT are working with the County Council to develop a range of opportunities to produce that income and help to protect and enhance the Countryside Estate.


The Countryside Estate is greatly valued by the public, however it is coming under increasing pressure from reducing budgets. The best way to protect and enhance the countryside for the future is to make the Estate self-funding and better protected against declining public sector budgets.  Paying for parking is an accepted cost of going to the countryside, demonstrated by the many sites that charge and are still very busy.


Without funding, the countryside will become more inaccessible, overgrown and littered.  All car parks on the countryside estate need regular litter collection, management of trees and other vegetation, upkeep of signs and surfacing and car park resurfacing.  Income from car park charges can help meet these costs and improve the biodiversity, landscape and access to this valuable asset.


The results of the consultation show us that the public would prefer not to pay to use the car parks however there is recognition that without a reliable income stream the result would be a deterioration in the quality of the estate and in access to the estate.   Of the payment options available, cash would be the most acceptable to the public.  However there are high operational costs and risks, for example theft and vandalism are more common where cash is collected in meters on remote sites. The National Trust are already reviewing their method of charging as a result of repeated vandalism.  The next most popular payment option was by card (some 95% of adults in the UK now have bank cards).


Many countryside car parks in Surrey and other rural areas make charges.  Following financial assessment, the analysis of the Pay and Conserve Public Consultation and recommendations from the Environment and Infrastructure Select Committee, it is felt that the most appropriate way of generating the necessary income is to introduce charging at the 5 busiest sites with card-only Pay and Display machines plus the option to pay by mobile phone or to purchase an annual parking permit.  The cost of an annual permit is £60 this equates to a daily cost of 16p.


[The decisions on this item can be called in by the Environment and Infrastructure Select Committee]

Report author: Lisa Creaye-Griffin

Publication date: 31/01/2018

Date of decision: 30/01/2018

Decided at meeting: 30/01/2018 - Cabinet

Effective from: 08/02/2018

Accompanying Documents: