National Car Parks

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National Car Parks
IndustryCar parks and public outsourcing
FounderFrederick Lucas
Key people
Jonathan Scott, CEO
Development Bank of Japan

National Car Parks (NCP) is the United Kingdom's largest and longest-standing private car park operator, with over 150,000 spaces across more than 500 car parks in towns, cities, airports and London Underground and National Rail stations.


NCP car park in Brewer Street, London

NCP was founded in 1931 by Colonel Frederick Lucas. In October 1948 Sir Ronald Hobson, together with his business partner Sir Donald Gosling, founded Central Car Parks when the pair invested £200 in a bombsite in Holborn, Central London to create a car park. In 1959 Central Car Parks took over NCP from Anne Lucas, the widow of Colonel Lucas.[1]

Hobson and Gosling expanded the company by recognising the under-developed state of many post-World War II British cities and towns. The pair began buying vacant sites in city centres, converting them into car parks. NCP then began managing sites on behalf of third parties.

By the mid-1990s, NCP had become one of the most successful private businesses in Britain. In 1998, after a flotation of the business on the London Stock Exchange was cancelled at a late stage, the company was bought by US-based property and travel services provider Cendant for £801 million with Hobson, Gosling, and their family trusts who owned 72.5% of the National Parking Corporation taking £580 million.[2]

In 1999, NCP launched the UK's first private-public partnership, setting up a joint venture with Manchester City Council to establish NCP Manchester Ltd (NML).

In 2002, Cendant sold NCP to Cinven. NCP began to develop business contracts in the provision of enforcement services for local authorities, vehicle removals and debt recovery, where by 2005 it had become market leader in its field.

NCP was sold to 3i in July 2005 for £555million.[3] In 2007, NCP was acquired by Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund II.[4] In 2007, the outsourced services business was spun off into NCP Services.[5] In August 2017, Macquarie Group sold NCP to Park24 and Development Bank of Japan.[6][7]

Current operations[edit]

Today, NCP provides car parking across the UK. It has car parks at some of the most popular public sites such as Heathrow Airport, Manchester Arena and Birmingham New Street railway station.

In 2013, NCP launched a new website and online strategy enabling customers to pre-book their parking at over 100 of their rail, city and town centre car parks.

In 2014, NCP signed partnerships with online and mobile parking consolidators, having opened up its off-street pre-booking technology to third-party providers and parking retailers for the first time. Deals were struck with JustPark, Parkjockey and YourParkingSpace, enabling their users NCP spaces at over 100 sites.[8]


National Car Parks has become very popular with numerous industries looking for alternative-style venues to stage events.

Since 2010, House of Holland has booked the Brewer Street NCP to host its catwalk shows for London Fashion Week; previous attendees have included Alexa Chung, Jamie Winstone and Rachel Bilson.[9]

In Cardiff, Evans Cycles have created the Urban Duel, a BMX racing event that takes place in NCP Dumfries Place. There are plans to host this event at other car parks around the country.[10]

Art Drive exhibited its collection of classic BMWs designed by famous artists including Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Jeff Koons and Roy Lichtenstein at the Great Eastern Street NCP in Shoreditch.[11]

As part of the Manchester International Festival, NCP arranged a live relay screening of Kenneth Branagh’s new play Macbeth with hundreds of fans turning up to the open-air screening.[12]


In the early 1990s, NCP was accused of planting spies in rival group Europarks, but Britain's then biggest industrial espionage trial ended with the full acquittal of NCP chief executive Gordon Layton.[13]

In November 2013, following the announcement that Hull was to be the UK City of Culture 2017, NCP managing director Duncan Bowins took to popular social media website Facebook and branded the city "a sh**ehole" – despite the fact that his car parks took over £1 million from the city each year.[14] This "crude slur" led to Duncan Bowins winning the Award for "Most Inappropriate Use of Social Media" at the Hull Daily Mail Angus Young Awards 2013.[15]

In December 2013, the Crawley News and The Argus reported that NCP staff had been parking in the town's limited disabled bays for convenience.[16] An NCP spokeswoman subsequently issued a statement claiming the pair had parked there to clear leaves from the car park and that there had been nowhere else to park. However, when the Crawley News published a photo clearly showing spaces right next to the disabled bay, the firm's Head of Operations Nigel Sorenson called to apologise and admitted that the incident was "embarrassing and upsetting" for the company.[17]

Part of a car park operated by NCP in Nottingham collapsed on 19 August 2017. Vehicles were left dangling from the edge of the city centre car park after it partially collapsed. It left three vehicles hanging over the edge of the car park from a floor roughly 50 ft (15m) above the ground and blocked the entrance and exit of the car park with fallen concrete.[18]


  1. ^ Ray Clancy, The story of National Car Parks 9 October 2008
  2. ^ Millions for car park entrepreneurs BBC News 24 March 1998
  3. ^ 3i closes on £555 million acquisition of NCP 3i 1 September 2005
  4. ^ 3i sells NCP car parks unit for £790M Financial Times 15 March 2007
  5. ^ NCP to de-merge into two businesses 3i 14 March 2007
  6. ^ Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund II reaches agreement to sell holding in National Car Parks to Park24 Macquarie Group 14 July 2017
  7. ^ History Park 24
  8. ^ NCP partners with trio of mobile first Financial Times 16 October 2014
  9. ^ House of Holland Vogue 15 September 2012
  10. ^ Evans, Evans Cycles Urban Dual Evans Cycles 28 October 2012
  11. ^ Art Drive! @ NCP Car Park Shoreditch Londonist 17 July 2012
  12. ^ All eyes on Sir Ken as Manchester International Festival bows out Manchester Evening News 22 July 2013
  13. ^ Car parks chief is cleared of spying on rival The Independent 13 March 1993
  14. ^ NCP boss in crude Facebook outburst at Hull Hull Daily Mail 30 November 2013
  15. ^ The Angus Young Awards 2013 Hull Daily Mail 30 November 2013
  16. ^ Disgust as NCP van parks in disabled bay The Argus 11 December 2013
  17. ^ NCP embarrassed after staff park in disabled bay Crawley News 19 December 2013
  18. ^ "Nottingham NCP car park collapse prompts call for answers". BBC News. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 21 August 2017.

External links[edit]

Media related to National Car Parks at Wikimedia Commons