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Cheapest (Dearest) City Centre Parking

Paul Berentzen is shocked by how expensive (and cheap) some car parks are

Published on March 29th 2012.

Cheapest (Dearest) City Centre Parking

WHY park in Manchester when it’s so much cheaper to leave your car over the river in Salford?

Here at Confidential we know the rising cost of parking a car in the city centre is a issue. So we used up some shoe leather strolling over the Irwell bridges.

As long as people are willing to pay, these car parks will continue to charge these ridiculous fees

The research was neither scientific nor exhaustive but it hightlighted some ludicrous differences in the amount charged at different car parks.

Crucially, the whole experiment took less than an hour and was done entirely on foot. All of these car parks are within easy walking distance of each other and very close to the city centre or in the heart of it. Even the furthest away is a five minute walk from Marks and Spencer.

We’re not talking about parking on the wrong side of town and walking miles to the main retail area of Manchester.

But that 500m, as the crow flies, distance between the cheapest and the most expensive parking can for result in an £24 surcharge for a full day.

The NCP car park on King Street West, behind House of Fraser (Kendals) is by far the worst offender, charging £6.80 for just two hours — more than four times the price of a full weekend day on Gravel Lane in Greengate, Salford. And 24 hours will set you back £25.50, even though the most you need ever pay in Salford is currently a whopping £2.20.

The King Street West car parking is thus just about the most expensive in the UK. 

How much?How much?

The cluster of car parks, located on or around Greengate, are only ten minutes walk away from King Street by Google Maps’ conservative estimate. With my long legs it wasn’t even five.

Market Place car park (another NCP), which is nearer to Salford than Deansgate, charges £16.60 for the whole day, roughly five times the average price on the other side of the Irwell.

As a minority shareholder, Manchester City Council has representation on the NCP Manchester Ltd board, which sets the prices in car parks across the city.

Greengate (A) Less Than 500m To Harvey NicholsGreengate (A) Less Than 500m To Harvey Nichols

All this begs the question, how can they get away with charging as much as they do?

The answer must be that people are willing to pay it.

Or maybe people don't know that a very short walk away they could save lots of money. Are people ignorant of these options, or simply don't care about paying so much? Weirdly, in a reversal of usual welfare standards the high city centre parking rates seem to damage the wallets of pensioners and the infirm more than any other sector of society.  

Perhaps there will come a point when the Salford options are too good to avoid - especially on warm, dry days. 

Confidential’s car park price guide:

Prices are for a full day, unless specified otherwise.

King St (NCP) - £25.50 (£6.80 for 2hrs)
Market Place (NCP) - £16.60 (£4.30 for 2hrs)
Station Approach, Chapel St - £4.50 (Mon-Fri), £3.50 (Sat), £3 (Sun)
Greengate - £3 (Mon-Fri), £2 (Sat-Sun)
   Note: Currently reduced to £2.20 due to poor road surface
Gravel Lane - £3 (Mon-Fri), £1.50 (Sat-Sun)

You can follow Paul on Twitter @paulberentzen

So close you can actually see the pink 'Welcome to Salford' signSo close you can actually see the pink 'Welcome to Salford' sign

Gravel Street - winner of the 'Cheapest Weekend Parking' awardGravel Lane - winner of the 'Cheapest Weekend Parking' award

Station Approach - not the most professional...Station Approach - not the most professional...

...but it is a cracking riverside location...but it is a cracking riverside location

Hardly seems worth itHardly seems worth it

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38 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Vikki FranksMarch 29th 2012.

Plus the lovely 3% extra they charge you at NCP's for paying with a "credit" card, which apparently covers all debit cards as well. So nice of them!

Stephen DouglasMarch 29th 2012.

"All day parking" is not necessarily the same as "24 hour parking" - I know from experience that some car parks that advertise all day parking only actually apply up until midnight.

AnonymousMarch 29th 2012.

its a bit rough down gravel lane hahaha

CharlieMarch 29th 2012.

Euro Car Park Owen Street (near Deansgate station) is £5/24 hours


1 Response: Reply To This...
Paul GMarch 30th 2012.

And next on from Owen Street are a collection of car parks behind Great Jackson St - £3 all day. Dodgy terrain though.

JohnthebriefMarch 29th 2012.

The Council are never going to use any influence with NCP to lower prices. Their policy objective is to stop anyone driving into the city at all.

AnonymousMarch 30th 2012.

£2 per day - every day! next to Islington Wharf just off Ancoats

John HardmanMarch 30th 2012.

Another option is to come into town on your motorbike or cycle and park for free in the town centre, also avoiding the traffic jams at the same time :-)

johnMarch 30th 2012.

The restrictions on the parking bays that run down Oldham Road between the Vnam Cafe (opposite the royal mail centre) and just before the Crown and Kettle end at 12.30pm on a saturday. As you get 2 hours parking here anyway you'll be able to park here free from 10.30am

Also Cornell Street in ancoats is still only £1.20 for 2 hours on the parking meters http://g.co/maps/6b5zr

Both of these are about 5mins walk to the arndale

Lisa KenyonMarch 30th 2012.

Parking in this city is now a joke!! My poor little pensioner mum and dad came to visit me on Sun (to support me doing a charity run) and I don't have parking where I live and now it's charged on Sundays and the poor things ended up paying more in parking than they did to sponsor me running... they dont have the money and both have bad legs/walking sticks and can't walk very far... it's a shambles and I wish the people responsible could be voted out of the council! :(

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Tara McCarthyMarch 30th 2012.

get them to the docs to get disability sticker for their window then they won't have to pay!

SmittyApril 2nd 2012.

Tara, Lisa's parents don't even need to go to the doctor's. The application form for a blue badge is here:


If Lisa's folks aren't too good online perhaps she could take a few minutes and help them with the application. Then they can, indeed, park for free across the city centre.

AnonymousMarch 30th 2012.

Thanks for telling everyone about these little gems

KarenMarch 30th 2012.

Dump your car at Eccles at the free car park and jump on the tram twenty minutes later you are in Piccadilly I would never drive into town centre again!!!!!!!!!

Phillip DorinMarch 30th 2012.

Not with the price of the trams Karen! They make King Street West car park prices seem reasonable...

KarenMarch 30th 2012.

I don't think £3.50 return from lady well Eccles to Piccadilly is unreasonable !!!!!! I use this service at least one per week and think it is good value for money.

KarenMarch 30th 2012.

It is even cheaper off peak £2.80 you can't say that is more expensive than parking in centre. And it's a lot less hassle.

suzyblewMarch 30th 2012.

Thanks for this. Very useful. For my parents coming into the city centre by train (only public transport option) costs £7.50 each so for 2 people, parking is still the most convienient option, especially as most of the time the trains are once an hour.

Personally I still prefer to drive in on a Saturday and am fed up of some of the prices that are being charged by the NCPs. When both the council and my MP don't care, I'm not sure whom to complain to. However I still had to pay £260 car tax today!

TimmachineMarch 30th 2012.

Manchester could be such a great cycle-city. Better than Copenhagen even. Invest in safe routes, then clear and widen those canal paths into the suburbs.

KarenMarch 30th 2012.

Tram times every 12 minutes so it doesn't matter what time you get there or if you just miss one !!!!

1 Response: Reply To This...
JS3April 2nd 2012.

Erm, unless they've broken down/put a replacement bus service on without any announcements.

John NuttallMarch 30th 2012.

"especially on warm, dry days" , there's the real drawback in sunny Manchester

Jayne HiltonMarch 30th 2012.

As a previously confirmed car-o-holic I would never have dreamt of going into town for a good old Saturday shopping spree any other way. I either trawled Bridge St (Salford) for a free space or gave up and went into the NCP at HoF (I know, must be mad - 14 quid for a few hours shopping!) However, I have discovered........trains! They are about every 9-10 minutes from Bolton, takes approx 15 mins into town and it's only £3.80 return. AND the car park is free at Bolton station!

AnonymousMarch 31st 2012.

Most of those cheap car parking spots have come about through tearing down Manchester and Salford's architectural heritage. Pubs have particularly suffered as a result of this. If you can, take public transport.

ChristoffMarch 31st 2012.

I always park where the Boddingtons Brewery used to be (opposite the MEN Arena). And I am very surprised it hasn't got a mention on here. £3 all day. Sorted.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Portia VeniceMarch 31st 2012.

Same here. And, it's only a 5/10 mins walk to Deansgate past the Arena and the Cathedral. It's a gud 'un.

FurFoxAcheApril 1st 2012.

For your info, Quidco (cashback website) give you cashback when you use your registered card at any NCP car park. We've been parking in town at the palace theatre for months and you get a tidy sum after a while.

Ruth CrawshawApril 4th 2012.

Happy to park further out of the city if its just for a couple of hours but how secure are these to leave your car in overnight. I end up using the Arndale car park as I know I've got CCTV watching my car and if I leave it overnight its still secure the following morning.

Susan ThompsonJune 10th 2012.

Do you think that the Printworks NCP will be totally secure overnight? If not, any other ideas.

AnonymousMarch 18th 2013.

Yesterday we parked on king street west and I was more than shocked at the price. We rarely drive into Manchester and feel I should have researched it better beforehand instead of following the parking sign. What made this visit more scary is the fact that myself and young daughter were nearly mugged in the lift until a couple intervened. When I reported it to the carpark staff on the way out the didn't seem bothered!

JoanMarch 18th 2013.

Please report that incident to Manchester police. Use 101 to phone.

Caroline SherburnMarch 14th 2014.

Where do i get these car park addresses.

Caroline SherburnMarch 14th 2014.

Where do i find these car parks i need addresses

1 Response: Reply To This...
SquirrelitoMarch 14th 2014.

ever heard of the internet?

Caroline SherburnMarch 14th 2014.

Yes use it all the time but the station approach car park does not come up.:(

SquirrelitoMarch 14th 2014.

search for Bijou, its over the road from it.

Caroline SherburnMarch 18th 2014.


Adam KnightSeptember 3rd 2014.

Hi, I needed to park in Manchester on a weekday arriving mid-morning and was advised that many of the cheap car parks fill up quickly. I used Total Car Parks on Oxford Road/Charles Street M60 7HB (old BBC site). Paid £5 for up to 12 hours but it's cheaper for shorter stays - details on their website. Car park seems secure and well-run, I'd recommend it. Free Metroshuttle bus no.2 runs along Oxford Road into city every 10 mins, though it's not all that far to walk.

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