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Date updated: 7/14/2021
Parking charges will be coming into effect in Epping Forest at selected car parks from 10 May 2021. Please check signage when parking.

Parking charges

A new parking system will be in place from 10 May 2021 and daily parking charges will apply at some car parks. The new system is cashless, accepting payments through RingGo or by card (at High Beach only).

  • Charges apply every day (Monday - Sunday) - during car park opening hours:
    • Up to 1 hour: £1.50 
    • Up to 2 hours: £2.50 
    • 2 – 4 hours: £4.00 
    • Full day (over 4 hours): £6.00
  • The maximum stay is 6 hours at all sites
  • Parking is only permitted within the car park where you have paid to park
  • No return within one hour
  • Free for Blue Badge holders clearly displaying a valid badge
  • Free for Motorbikes

Payment will be accepted through the RingGo car park system. Full details and instructions are available within the car park and on RingGo's guide page.

Please ensure:

  • A valid pay and display ticket is clearly displayed if paying by card (High Beach only)
  • A valid badge is displayed, if you are a Blue Badge holder

A £60 charge will be applied if you do not pay to park or adhere to the above, rising to £100 if not paid within 14 days.

Annual Car Parking Pass

An Annual Car Parking Pass, valid for 12 months from date of purchase, will be available for purchase via the RingGo platform. Please note a RingGo account is needed for this service. This pass will also be available from 10 May. When this is live, a link to apply will be provided on RingGo's Epping Forest page.

The annual pass is £150 and is valid in all Epping Forest car parks. As a representative saving if you were to park twice a week for two hours the pass would save you £110 on daily bought tickets. 

Please note that the six hour maximum stay, with no return within one hour, also applies to Annual Car Parking Pass holders.

Closing times

Car park opening and closing times change seasonally. Please see signs at entrance gates for the current closing time for each car park. 

Background

The decision to introduce car parking charges in Epping Forest was made over three meetings of the Epping Forest and Commons Committee which acts as the Conservators of Epping Forest. The full reports can be read here:

An online public consultation ran from 27 January to 15 February 2021. There were a total of 2,600 responses to the consultation. The feedback from this consultation was reported to the Committee meeting in March and a summary of the main points was included in this report.

Changes to parking conditions: frequently asked questions

The introduction of car park charges has the following four aims:

  • To generate enough income to offset the significant cost of continued car park provision so that the charity’s limited resources can be spent on protecting the Forest and improving the visitor experience.

Epping Forest is a registered charity. Managing a busy Forest with 4.2 million visits each year, alongside internationally important nature and heritage conservation assets is a demanding exercise which costs £4.5 Million to run each year, without the support of local taxation. Most of the charity’s funding comes from the City of London Corporation’s philanthropic resources but the charity also generates income and seeks alternative sources of funding.

  • To reduce the impact of non-Forest users on Forest car parks to free space for genuine Forest users.

The number of cars trying to access our car parks regularly exceeds the capacity available especially at peak periods. This is an issue where Forest car parks are located near other facilities with ‘pay to park’ arrangements such as train stations, healthcare provision or even local high street shops. The internally recognised statutory protections that cover many parts of the Forest prevent the expansion of car parks.

  • To better protect the Forest’s ecologically sensitive areas by influencing where visitors visit.

Around 45,000 vehicles pass through the Wake Arms roundabout in the heart of the Forest each weekday. Tens of thousands of vehicles travel up and down the other roads through the Forest every day. Exhaust pollutants are up to three times higher than the limits set to protect plant health. Car use, particularly in the interior of the Forest, should therefore be discouraged where possible, to better protect this ancient woodland for future generations to enjoy.

  • To encourage more sustainable access to the Forest, for example travel by public transport or bicycle, to reduce the impact of harmful vehicle emissions.

There are 270,000 homes within a short walking distance of the Forest and we are confident that visitors have excellent alternative means of accessing the Forest other than by car. At least 14 train/underground stations and 16 different bus services offer access points within a 12-minute walk. This was tested in March 2020, during the first period of ‘lockdown’ when for a large part of the time the car parks were closed. The Forest was possibly at its busiest ever with an estimated 1.3 million visits over a 6-week period. Cycling is welcomed across most of the Forest and newly refurbished car parks include cycle parking points. The Charity would like to install more of these in other Forest car parks, which could be funded using revenue raised from car park charges.

In Spring 2021, our first phase of charging came into effect, which includes the 14 car parks listed below:

  • Alexandra Lake Car Park
  • Barn Hoppitt Car Park (and overflow car park)
  • Boat House Car Park
  • Bury Road Car Park (and overflow car park)
  • Centre Road Car Park
  • Chingford Golf Course Car Park
  • Claypit Hill Car Park
  • Connaught Water Car Park
  • High Beach, Visitor Centre Car Park
  • High Beach, Pillow Mounds Car Park
  • Jubilee Pond Car Park
  • Leyton Flats Car Park
  • Rushey Plain Car Park (including the ‘turn-around')
  • Snaresbrook Car Park
  • Warren Pond Car Park
  • Wellington Hill Car Park

In the near future, charges may be applied to more Forest car parks.

Disabled drivers can park for free, but must display a valid Blue Badge.

Payment can be made via the RingGo platform, via phone or app. Details of this process can be found on signage at charging car parks, or by visiting RingGo online. 

At High Beach there are seven Pay and Display machines which accept card payment only. 

Annual Car Parking Passes will also be available (see above).

The car parks proposed for charging in phase one are either not adjacent to residential housing or Residents Parking Zones (RPZ’s) are already in place. In the south of the Forest it has been the introduction of RPZ’s around underground and overground stations that has displaced commuter parking to the Forest.

We will continue to liaise with Local Authorities on car park charges implementation and improved sustainable transport options.

Parking charges will apply in the above listed car parks, Monday - Sunday during all car park opening hours.

Yes, Annual Car Parking Passes will soon be available to purchase via RingGo's Epping Forest page.

No, enforcement action will not include towing. 

Enforcement of car parking fees will be by way of a penalty charge notice, issued by a contractor on behalf of Epping Forest. Details of this can be found on the parking terms and conditions boards in each pay and display car park. 

Fees are £60 if paid within 14 days, rising to £100 if payment is not made in this period. 

Many heritage green spaces such as the National Trust, English Heritage and Royal Parks charge visitors or for car parking to generate income to fund and reinvest in the sites. Adding a charge for parking will help the City to challenge perceptions that management of the Forest is ‘free’ and that there is no cost to its preservation or management, including the upkeep of 50 car parks. All the income provided by car park charges, less the costs of maintaining the scheme, will be reinvested in the Forest.

The scheme will be managed by Epping Forest staff working in conjunction with RingGo and a car parking operator.

View RingGo's guide page to see how RingGo works.

The City of London, Essex Police, Essex County Council and Epping Forest District Council are working with North Essex Parking Partnership to ensure that roads in the area are kept safe for road users. 

More information on the Red Route can be found on the link below. 

Epping Red Route - North Essex Parking Partnership

The scheme will be managed by Epping Forest staff working in conjunction with RingGo and a car parking operator.

View RingGo's guide page to see how RingGo works.

Some observers believe Queen Victoria gave a ‘gift’ of Epping Forest to the public and the Forest is often referred to as ‘the People’s Forest’. The reality is that Queen Victoria’s dedication to the public at the official opening in 1882, was simply recognising the City's purchase of the Forest.

Epping Forest had been privately owned for the 300 years prior to the Epping Forest Acts of 1871,1878 & 1880 but remained subject to the requirements of Royal Forest Law between 1217 and 1878. The sale of Forest Law rights to raise funds for the Crown from the 1850s fueled damaging encroachments of the Royal Forest of Epping and facilitated the felling of much of neighbouring Hainault Forest. The City Corporation supported a landmark case in 1874 which halted enclosures, before purchasing much of the Forest prior to 1878, settling the boundaries of the Forest in 1882.

Others believe that the introduction of charges is contrary to the undertakings given in the narrative to the Epping Forest Act 1878 that the City of London Corporation was willing to meet the costs of managing Epping Forest.

Managing Epping Forest for public access, heritage, land and nature conservation is an expensive undertaking. In addition to meeting the initial £30 Million purchase costs, the City Corporation has funded the costs of managing Epping Forest for the benefit of London and the nation from its own philanthropic resources since 1878 without support from national or local taxation. Nevertheless, while the Forest has always been free for public access on foot or by public transport, since its earliest days the City Corporation has levied charges, from licencing beer stalls, donkey rides and photographers to charging for football matches and entry to The Wanstead Park Grotto.

Some 142 years on, acting as a charitable trust, Epping Forest operates in a much changed environment, whether it be the growth of the suburbs and the populations surrounding the Forest, new legislative requirements around heritage, nature conservation and public safety, the cost of managing the Forest has grown significantly.

Despite improved income from a range of estate charges to tenants, wayleave holders and activity providers, additional income is now required to maintain a safe, conserved and accessible Forest.

The principle of public access on foot and by bus or train remains true to this day, however, the Trust needs to continue raise income from a range of charges, which are entirely invested in the management of the Forest.

The Epping Forest Acts 1878 & 1880 pre-date the invention of the motor car in 1886. Recognising the need to manage the post-1950s growth of car ownership, and subsequent car parking pressure at Epping Forest, the City of London (Various Powers) Act 1977 granted additional powers to Epping Forest to provide car parks and to charge for car parking.