Harrogate first town in UK to introduce new age of smart parking

This story was published 28 January 2019

Parking in Harrogate town centre has become easier this month thanks to the launch of AppyParking - a smart parking system that is the first of its kind in the UK.

officials at the launch of the smart parking scheme

Harrogate Borough Council, which manages off-street car parks, and North Yorkshire County Council, which is responsible for on-street parking, have worked with AppyParking the UK’s leading smart parking technology firm, to deliver the scheme.

Users who download the app will see real-time availability of spaces across Harrogate town centre thanks to more than 2,000 sensors in the ground, be able to navigate to the space and pay for a parking session with a single-click. The sensor technology means parking sessions automatically end when the vehicle is driven away.

Anyone can download the app to save time and reduce the hassle of parking. Users will no longer need to carry change for a pay and display machine or predict the time they’ll get back to their car. After the minimum stay period, users are charged per minute based on the hourly price up to the maximum stay. They are also sent a push notification to let them know if they are coming to the end of the maximum stay.

Councillor Phil Ireland, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for sustainable transport, said: “We want to make parking easier and more convenient for people, as well as providing a parking solution that helps encourage people to visit Harrogate town centre. This is not only the first of its kind in Yorkshire but the UK as well.

“These days so many services and payments are carried out on a smartphone, it’s only right that parking is part of that. Gone will be the days of running back to your car just before your ticket runs out!

“It also supports the key priorities of our plan to build a strong local economy, provide excellent public services as well as a sustainable environment. We look forward to seeing the scheme in action, assessing its performance over the 18-month pilot period and receiving feedback from people who use it.”

North Yorkshire County Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access, said: “We continue to seek innovative ways to improve traffic flow in Harrogate. This system should mean users travel shorter distances looking for a parking space, which will help us to improve the environment and traffic management.

“A big benefit is that it is an attraction for visitors. If they have the app, they won’t need to worry about parking. They can be guided to an available space. The visitor and leisure economy is so important to Harrogate and this will give the town yet another unique selling point.”

Dan Hubert, CEO and founder of AppyParking, said: “We’re really excited AppyParking has come to the streets and car parks of Harrogate. Our aim is to make parking forgettable and this project, with forward-thinking and supportive partners in Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council, has helped us achieve this. We are now looking forward to delivering smart parking across the country.”

The launch, the first of its kind in the UK, follows a successful testing period during which a small group of residents and businesses used AppyParking and provided feedback. The scheme is initially being run as an 18-month trial. Users who wish to continue to pay at pay and display parking machines will still be able to do so. As well as being charged per minute, after the minimum charge, customers will be charged a 30p convenience fee for using the service – similar to other cashless payment providers.

The £275,000 cost to implement the service has been funded through the Innovation Competition Fund, an initiative developed in partnership by AppyParking and Visa. The fund was established to find locations in the UK to showcase the benefits that can be unlocked for local authorities and residents when intelligent mobility solutions are embraced. The borough council and county council have each invested approximately £45,000 in the trial to cover the analytical software, service support and product enhancements.

The trial forms part of Harrogate Borough Council’s economic growth strategy that aims to attract global businesses to the district, create high-quality jobs as well as improving the local transport infrastructure, in a bid to create a more sustainable economy for the future. See further details of the strategy.

The scheme also helps towards delivering a modern, integrated transport network which is a key objective of North Yorkshire County Council’s plan for economic growth. The smart parking system is the first stage in a project to make Harrogate a smart town, which will involve creating a free public Wi-Fi network in the urban area. In the longer term, this could enable such things as touchscreen information kiosks and a wayfinding app for visitors and allow traffic flow and air quality to be monitored to inform decisions to address any issues. Systems trialled in Harrogate could be extended to other parts of North Yorkshire in the future.