Motorcaravanner Graham Hadfield began work on www.motorhomeparking.co.uk 10 years ago, after he found difficulty parking his ’van at various locations across the UK. A former Freedom of Information officer, he began contacting local authorities for details of their motorhome-parking arrangements, and collated the replies on the website. It soon became a tremendous resource for all motorcaravanners; here, Graham takes up the story of how it has evolved.
In March 2007 I created a set of 1200 motorhome parking points of interest (POIs) for use on TomTom sat-navs. It was regularly updated over the following four and a half years, until it eventually contained 1637 records. Versions were made available for use on Garmin devices, Google Earth and Autoroute, too.
Unfortunately, several people (including supposedly reputable companies) decided that copyright conditions didn’t apply to them, and made copies of the POI set before adding them to their own download websites. Apart from infringing copyright, they also failed to keep the data up-to-date.
These incidences of plagiarism, as well as a family bereavement, led me to remove the POI set from my site. However, I kept a copy of the POIs for personal use, and I have now decided to publish them again in the hope that the plagiarists will have been deterred. (If that is a vain hope, I will take legal action.)
The POI set has been completely revised as part of this process. The original set contained some entries that, with the benefit of hindsight, were only suitable for smaller motorhomes and campervans. The new set has been designed (successfully, I hope) to only include parking places suitable for vehicles up to about 25ft in length, and up to a weight of 3.5 tonnes.
There will be many more places where smaller vehicles can be parked – especially if they fit into a standard-sized bay (see carousel, above) – but there are very few places within the new set that can cater for larger vehicles, such as American RVs.
In addition, there were some places that – again with the benefit of hindsight – were dubious because they depended on personal opinion, such as advice to overhang plant beds (ignoring the fact that plants grow), or existed because of the mere absence of a height barrier in a relatively small car park. Such locations have been removed.
The original set also included some supermarket car parks. They have been deleted because POIs are available from the supermarkets themselves, which ensures that they are kept up-to-date. Moreover, some car parks have simply ceased to exist or have had height restrictions added.
On the other hand, as a result of continued research, it has been possible to add several hundred extra sites. These have come not only from local authorities but from the likes of the National Parks, water companies and the Forestry Commission.
As a result, I’ve succeeded in building an initial set of 2227 motorhome-parking places. This can now be downloaded from www.motorhomeparking.co.uk.
Motorhome parking: dos and don'ts
- On 4 November 2015, the Supreme Court found in favour of Parking Eye in its action against Barry Beavis, with regard to the legality of charges for overstaying in private car parks. Despite what some websites claim, such charges are legally enforceable.
- Employees of local authorities and other organisations sometimes have high workloads and/or may not have been fully trained in the application of parking rules. In a dispute, remain calm, make notes of events and take up the issue with managers in a civilised manner at a later date.
- In a car park, check any signs to ensure that your vehicle is allowed to park there.
- Where overnight parking is permitted in car parks, there may still be a ban on sleeping/camping in the vehicle. Check first.
- In pay & display car parks it’s always worth checking whether you need to buy more than one ticket if your ’van overhangs into a second space. Also, in any car park, check whether overhanging the confines of a marked bay will result in a penalty charge.
- Before attempting to enter any car park, especially in a larger motorhome, ensure that there is room to manoeuvre your vehicle safely and without danger to anyone.
- Some rural car parks suffer from anti-social use, fly-tipping and vandalism and, as a result, are locked overnight. If you think this might apply to a car park you are intending to use, it’s worth checking with the owner.