Parking in London isn’t always a picnic. With busy historic roads and specialist charging zones, you should know what to expect before driving into central. This London parking guide for cheapos will help you park in the capital without hurting your wallet or your nerves.
Street Parking in London
First, let’s go back to driving school for a minute. Throughout the UK, double yellow lines on the side of the road mean no parking at any time. You may be less familiar with the red lines that you will see on the side of some roads in London and a few other British cities. In London, these are red routes, the capital’s busiest roads, and they are also no parking zones. Cheapos look out: the fine for breaking the rules on red routes increased to £160.00 in January 2022.
Even for the streets that don’t outright forbid parking, there are often restrictions on who can park there and where, and things only get stricter the more central you go. Snagging a coveted free parking spot in central London is possible, but it pays to be prepared. Search the specific location where you wish to park for information on the restrictions. For example, the London Borough of Camden has a useful map of controlled parking zones. Parkopedia is also a good shout for your parking research needs.
The good news is that a lot of parking restrictions in London don’t apply in the evenings or weekends, so if you are parking your car for a night out, for church, or Sunday brunch, you may be in luck. Be sure to check the signage though – many a Londoner has been caught out by parking in what they thought was an 8.30am to 6.30pm zone at 7pm, when it was actually a 10am to 10pm zone.
Signage for street parking in London is usually comprehensive but can be confusing for the inexperienced. For a refresher, check out this guide from the British Parking Association.
You can save money by street parking in London but do your research, read the signs, follow the rules, and if you’re unsure, don’t park there. If you break the rules, you will be slapped with a Penalty Charge Notice which can set you back to the tune of £80.00 or more.
Reservable parking spaces in central London
The following car parking companies are by no means cheapo but deserve a mention because they service zone 1 well, and are still often cheaper than a pay and display… or a PCN. Q-Park and NCP offer reservable parking spaces in central London. Savings can be made by booking ahead, or by getting a season ticket if you are likely to be driving in the area often.
London Parking Apps
Parking in London has become more cashless in recent years, which is great for convenience and flexibility. It can be annoying to have to download multiple apps on the go though, so here are the ones you need to know:
Stashbee is a Marketplace for Storage & Parking. It has a huge amount of listings all over London, and you can search for a short term hourly spot or long term monthly parking space. Alternatively, if you have a parking space you don’t use,
renting out your driveway on Stashbee can also be a good way to make some extra cash.
JustPark is a great option for cheapos wanting to park in the city. It’s an app where people rent out their drives and parking spaces. Some car parks also use JustPark to manage their payments too. You can reserve spaces in advance, search by location, with the option to scout out EV charging spaces specifically. Given that it’s mostly residential spaces, JustPark is a good option for cheapos who want to save some cash and gain peace of mind in exchange for a bit of a walk to where you need to go.
Another cheapo benefit of getting a JustPark account is that they will remind you when your car’s MOT is due and provide you with a list of discounted garages where you can get it done.
RingGo is the largest parking app in the UK. You’ll often see RingGo as an alternative to cash in pay and display car parks. It’s the City of London’s app of choice for London’s Green Spaces, including Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest. As well as offering means to pay, you can use RingGo to search for parking by area, along with data on pricing and how busy it is (though the latter may not always be accurate). Some councils in London have partnered with RingGo for the provision of their resident’s permits, more on that below.
MiPermit is a RingGo alternative offering a very similar service, though slightly less common in London. It’s the favoured app for resident’s permits in the London Borough of Newham.
If you want to own a car in London, you do not have a designated space, and you live within a controlled parking area you will have to apply for a resident’s permit.
In London, this is organised by borough. Type your postcode into Gov.uk’s postcode finder to be directed to the relevant parking information for your borough.
Rules vary depending on where you live, but typically you will be able to apply for one permit per household. You will need to provide your vehicle information and proof of residency. The latter can be a bit difficult if you’ve newly moved to the borough, but you can often get a temporary permit, usually one month, while you are waiting for more robust documentation to come through.
Parking permits these days are typically digital, so you won’t have to keep a paper disk in your windscreen. Councils like Islington and Waltham Forest have partnered with RingGo, allowing residents to complete the application process online.