Out-of-town retail parks could be forced to charge for parking under new recommendations announced today

The UK Commission for Integrated Transport has suggested that parking charges be standardised across Town Centre and out-of-town shopping centres to encourage shoppers to use public transport.

The recommendation was made in a report into how different modes of transport impact on the retail environment, which was presented to the Department for Transport today.

Other suggestions include congestion charging and introducing bus priority routes to avoid congestion around shopping centres.

It was also proposed that local authorities should stipulate public transport provisions and home delivery services when considering planning requirements for out-of-town retailers and supermarkets, in an attempt to reduce car travel.

The report looked at six cities – Bath, Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Leeds and Nottingham – and found that 85% of shoppers at out-of-town destinations arrived by car, compared with 47% at town centre destinations.

Helen Holland, the commission member who headed the inquiry, said: ‘The commission recognises that for some shopping trips, such as the weekly grocery shop, the car is currently the most convenient option, but this level of car use is simply not sustainable in the long term.

‘We want to see local authorities, retailers and transport operators taking the right decisions to support the high street.

‘Out-of-town shopping centres surrounded by gridlock and irate shoppers will not help anyone – least of all the retailers.’

The commission was set up by the government to provide independent advice on strategic policy issues.