The astronaut

Answer – Park in it, man!

The question of where to park is one that all motorists will have asked themselves from time to time.

But surely I can park anywhere on a public road provided that it is not subject to parking restrictions or otherwise contrary to the Highway Code?

No, you can’t!  It may amaze you to know that although motorists have the right to pass and repass along a public road there is no legal right for anyone to park on the public road or outside their property.

The common law rule is that those using a public highway are entitled to remain at rest for a reasonable time, but anyone who obstructs the highway for longer than is reasonable causes a nuisance. Individuals who can show that they have suffered a loss as a result can recover damages from the person responsible in a civil action.

But I can park on my property without any problem?

Yes, normally this will be okay but there may still be problems if the parking is in breach of planning permission or a restrictive covenant prohibiting such parking.

The situation will also be similar if your property has the express right to park on land belonging to another owner.

But even if I haven’t got a specific right in the deeds to park on another party’s land can I acquire one if I have parked there for many years?

Perhaps, but until recently it was not clear whether or not a right to park cars could be acquired by 20 years user. A 2001 case[1] decided that it could be. However, doubts remain if the right can be acquired to park a vehicle in a single defined space as opposed to a general right to park anywhere in a larger area.  This is because a right to park a car cannot be acquired if the owner of the space is left without any reasonable use of the land. The position is still somewhat unclear.

Beware!  Parking generally can be a remarkably contentious issue. This is hardly surprising as according to research by the Nationwide Building Society, on average a parking space adds 6.5% to the value of a property. So, wherever possible, ensure that the property has an express right to park.

But even if I find a parking space will my vehicle be clamped when I return?

This will largely depend on whether you have parked on public or private land.

Clamping of a vehicle on a public highway can only be done by a public body and normally vehicles are only clamped on a public highway if the vehicle is not taxed or is parked in waiting or other restricted areas e.g. permit holders only.

It is, however, a criminal offence to clamp/block/tow away a vehicle on private land without lawful authority and such authority is restricted to a limited number of organisations such as the police, DVLA and local authorities. Privately owned land includes car parks, such as those at retail parks, whether or not a fee is payable in order to park there, but not local authority run car parks.

But I’ve been driving round for hours now and I just can’t find anywhere to park! 

Then you will simply have to do what followers of Birmingham City Football Club have had to do for generations and that is to ‘keep right on to the end of the road ‘til you come to your happy abode’!

This post was edited by Chris Cheatle. For more information, email

[1] Batchelor v Marlow [2001] EWCA Civ 1051

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This blog is intended only as a synopsis of certain recent developments. If any matter referred to in this blog is sought to be relied upon, further advice should be obtained.