posted 4 years ago

Tiny parking spaces to get even tighter

Operators could be given freedom to reduce bay sizes

On the vexing subject of parking, you’d think the big squeeze that gets the average motorist’s goat the most is the relentless quest to extract every last penny from any driver who dares to stop their vehicle for longer than 30 seconds.

Good guess, but you’d be wrong.

A quick straw poll points to a far more sinister plot designed to make more money out of defenceless motorists.

We’re not talking about parking charges, but shrinking parking spaces that ensure it’s almost impossible – unless you drive a diminutive Dinky or your name’s Harry Houdini– to park your vehicle without damaging your car or hurting yourself.

Too-snug spot

Most spaces are tiny, and if the only one available is next to a car that’s not centred precisely in the neighbouring bay, you’re snookered.  You could even end-up with an injury while struggling to extract yourself from a too-snug spot.  Sounds familiar? 

All the anecdotal evidence suggests that parking spaces, especially at supermarkets and in multi-storeys, must be getting smaller.  Wrong again.  Department for Transport rules governing car park space sizes have stayed the same since 1994 – a minimum width of 1.80m (5ft 11in) wide and 4.5m long.

Average car width has increased

That means, then, our cars must be getting bigger? Right this time – the average car width has increased by 16% in those two intervening decades.  Manufacturers want to offer taller and fatter drivers more interior comfort and include more safety features, making modern models more than two inches meatier than the average puny parking space.   

This giant mismatch has, according to Halfords, affected around 10 million car owners, who have suffered scuffs and scratches after scuffles in tight spaces, costing a massive £5m a year in repair bills for damaged paintwork.

Scrap minimum proportions

But make the most of that teeny, tiny parking space – it could get even smaller.

Things could be about to change for the better…or worse.  The Government has consulted on plans to scrap the minimum proportions and allow local authorities to set the size of parking spaces.   The theory is that this flexibility will result in larger spaces for bigger cars. 

However, since it’s an obvious advantage for car park owners to squeeze-in as many vehicles as possible, it could also have the opposite effect – spaces could get even smaller, maximising revenue for operators because more bays equals more cars, and overhanging cars would also attract more penalty charges.

Maybe we should just be grateful.  After all, aren’t small parking spaces are better than none at all?


T'was ever thus. This government seems to like interfereing even stupid ideas like increasing speed limits. The design of cars is getting worse too as are driving standards.

Just a thought re: Model Creep below, my waistline has crept a lot since the time of the original Fiesta. Hmm, pots and kettles?

This problem has been going on for a long time and, in my view, is caused by the manufacturers indulging in 'Model Creep'. Every model update is a bit larger than its predecessor. Check the size of the original Ford Fiesta V the current model. The same with MK1 VW Golf etc. Replacement models are even worse, check the bloating of the Cortina - Sierra - Mondeo models.

Bought my Lexus GS250 last December and took out SMART cover from the dealer. 3 door dents, 2 bumper scrapes, 1 wheel arch scrape and wing mirror dent and scrape so far, all happened when unattended car sitting in supermarket car parks. Cover cost £299, cumulative cost of repairs would by now exceed £1,200! Only safe place is Costco with super wide bays.

I do not have a wide car but just a 2 door(4 seat) car, so the doors need need to open wider than a normal door to enable a safe exit. And who is to stop small car parking in the new larger spaces? Currently I never see anyone getting fined/ticketed for parking equally across two bays.

Regarding the comment of having 4x4's due to living in rural Norfolk and parking in disabled parking bays obviously doesn't know that by doing so, he is breaking the law!! Unless the person in question has a Blue Badge, he is breaking the law by illegally parking in a space which is there for disabled people, one of them being myself, so if he thinks he has the right by parking in a space for disabled people only, then think again or get yourself a smaller vehicle, and to end this comment, sorry but that's the way it is!!!

The solution is simple. Don't buy grotesquely oversized cars. I've never encountered a parking space too small for a normal sized family car. If you must drive an oversized Tonka toy then you have only yourself to blame if you're not capable of parking it.

Simple answer, don't park anywhere they try to squeeze you out for maximum revenue. Cars get wider due to safety features like air bags, then they put the squeeze on us by reducing the size of the spaces, nice people NOT. The best thing to do, is not to take your car when you go shopping, in fact don't go shopping at all, do it all on line and let them know who's really in charge. I look forward to seeing lots of empty car parks in the future, it will serve them right, not to mention the greedy councils, starve them all out of existence I say.

living in rural norfolk many of us drive 4x4 vehicles, supermarket spaces are too small i now park in mothers & todlers spaces, or even disabled spaces, sorry but thats the way it is.