Car parking charges are set to be introduced at Richmond and Bushy Parks, despite significant public opposition to the move, Royal Parks have announced.

The park authorities confirmed their wish to press ahead with plans for paid parking at the two parks in a statement released on Monday (March 29) that said they were taking into consideration the thousands of people who responded to the public consultation on the issue.

Royal Parks said the move was designed to encourage people to visit the parks in a more sustainable way, and that the money raised would be spent on park infrastructure like road and path maintenance and "pedestrian facilities".

"We’ve seen an ever- increasing demand for parking in our limited number of car parks, and this change is needed," Andrew Scattergood the chief executive of The Royal Parks, said.

"It helps us manage demand for the car parks, which are currently often full by mid- morning, and will bring much needed revenue for related maintenance into the Royal Parks charity at a time when other income streams have reduced alongside unprecedented use of the parks.

"This will hopefully encourage many to use more sustainable ways to travel to the parks, both of which are designated as sites of special scientific interest, while ensuring that those who need to visit the parks by car can still do so," he added.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Screenshot from public consultation document shows widespread opposition to charges. Screenshot from public consultation document shows widespread opposition to charges.

Royal Parks' current plan for car parking charges would see parking charges on weekdays between 9am and 4pm, during park opening times, rather than 9am to 6pm as originally outlined, a change Royal Parks said was influenced by the public consultation.

Under the existing plans fees for both parks would be £1.40 per hour Monday to Friday, and £2.00 per hour at the weekend, to a maximum of six hours on any day.

However, as Royal Parks acknowledged, the huge response they received during a public consultation on the issue was largely against any charges for parking at Richmond and Bushy Parks.

Some 12,000 people took part in the consultation, with around 81 per cent voicing their opposition to any parking charges.

Among the most common concerns of respondents were:

  • "Impacts of increased congestion and parking problems in local streets adjacent to the park as visitors seek out free parking"
  • "Unhappy with how the cost of parking would impact their visit, especially for those of low incomes"
  • "Public parks should always be free and parking charges will discourage visitors"

While Royal Parks said they planned to move ahead with the proposals, they require the approval of Parliament to be introduced, so they are unlikely to start in the near future.