In an effort to discourage the use of cars for commuting, the Government fi rst consulted on the idea of a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) back in December 1998. The idea was that a charge would be made to employers and educational establishments based on the amount of workplace car parking they provided, with the proceeds of the levy being fed back into the achievement of local transport policies.

The fi rst local authority to develop a detailed WPL scheme, Nottingham City Council, had that scheme confi rmed by the Secretary of State for Transport on 31 July 2009. The Secretary of State’s decision was based on the Workplace Parking Levy (England) Regulations which were created following a public consultation. The results of that consultation are summarised in the explanatory memorandum to the regulations and make for interesting reading, with the majority of responses commenting on the general principle and potential impact of WPL schemes rather than the regulations themselves. Perhaps this is unsurprising given the British Chambers of Commerce estimates that the costs to business could be £3.4bn a year if every local authority in England outside London were to introduce a WPL scheme.

Real Estate Corporate Occupier Partner Martin Barrett notes “Whilst it is intended that there will be exemptions from the levy, WPL schemes should be a consideration for occupiers when choosing the right location for them. Nottingham may be the fi rst WPL scheme set in motion but all occupiers should be aware that if a scheme is developed in their area this could add substantially to their outgoings, particularly where public transport infrastructure does not meet the demands of their staff”.

No WPL schemes are expected to come into operation until 2011 and no levy is expected to be collected before April 2012, but that will not provide much comfort for those currently taking fi ve-year leases. The details of the Nottingham scheme will be confi rmed at a full meeting of the City Council this month.