Free festive parking returns to Sunderland

Afternoon traffic on High Street West, Sunderland
Afternoon traffic on High Street West, Sunderland

Sunderland car parks will be free after 3pm between December 12 and December 30.

The City Council and City Centre Traders Association have offered free parking in the hope that more of the public will visit the city centre at Christmas time.

“Free After 3pm” has taken place every Christmas since 2014.

A spokesperson for Sunderland City Council said: “With busy car parks, the council has received positive feedback from city traders and the Sunderland BID since it began offering its free Christmas parking schemes.”

Parking will be free at all car parks that belong to the council around Sunderland city centre after 3pm on weekdays. This includes St Mary’s, Sunniside Multi Storey and Boughton Street car parks.

On weekdays between December 12 and December 23, the Bridges Shopping Centre will be open til 8pm. Free parking will therefore allow the public to do their last minute Christmas shopping later than usual and save money in the process.

Members of the public have mixed opinions on the free parking scheme.

Kevin Cummings, from South Shields, said: “Free parking after 3pm on a Thursday and during Christmas time is both a good and a bad thing.

“Good as it should encourage more shoppers to the city centre. Therefore, potentially generating more income and sales for shops, helping to keep them open.

“It could bring more shops to Sunderland in the future. Also, people will be more inclined to park in official car parks rather than on the streets themselves. On the other side, more traffic on the road leads to its own issues.”

Rachel Gordon from Chester-le-Street, who works in Sunderland, said: “I think it will be good for people who are shopping. But, I come here for work so it doesn’t really benefit me that much.”

David Cardon from Hylton Castle, who does his shopping in the Bridges Shopping Centre, said: “My wife’s disabled. I save money anyway. It’s free car parking when you’ve got a disabled badge.”

Normal rates will apply on weekends and in private car park zones.

The usual cost of parking at St Mary’s car park is £1.30 per hour between 8am and 6pm. Sunniside Multi Storey and Boughton Street car parking costs £1.10 per hour.

For full details on all of the car parks included in the scheme and where to find them, please visit

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