Motor Insurance

Roads Feel More Congested Than Ever? Worst Postcodes Revealed

Does it feel like there are more cars in your area now than a few years ago? More cars not only add to rush hour queues, but can also make it more difficult to find a parking spot. Here are the postcodes where there's been the biggest increase in cars over the past 5 years—see how your postcode compares.

Residents of many areas in England struggle with road congestion and a scarcity of public parking spaces. Over the past 5 years the number of licenced cars has risen 6.8%, exacerbating the problem. While Urban areas are the worst, even rural areas are feeling the effects of more cars on the roads. Here are the worst postcodes in England—see how your area compares.

In order to find out how different areas compare, we've analysed data from the Department for Transport to find out which postcode districts had the largest increase in registered cars in the past 5 years. See the Methodology section below for a detailed description of how we generated our results.

table showing areas with biggest increase in number of cars

Postcode Districts with the Biggest Growth in Licenced Cars

Not surprisingly, urban areas have generally suffered from the worst increase in the number of cars, with some areas seeing 2X, 3X or even 5X as many licenced cars in 2019 than there were 5 years ago, increasing already congested roads.

The postcode district with the largest percentage increase in number of cars was MK14—Blakelands, Conniburrow, Downs Barn, Giffard Park, Great Linford, Linford Wood, Oakridge Park, Stantonbury, Neath Hill and Redhouse Park in Milton Keynes—where the number of cars grew from 74,012 in Q2 2014 to 171,615 in Q2 2019, an increase of 97,603 cars or 131.9% over 5 years.

The SN5 postcode, which includes West Swindon, Lydiard Millicent and Purton, had an additional 53,540 cars in 2019 from 2014, a percentage increase of 62%.

Ranked by Biggest Increase in Number of Licenced Cars

10 Worst Areas with Biggest Increase in Number of Licenced CarsLocal AuthorityCars in Q2 2014Cars in Q2 2019Change% Change
1MK14Milton Keynes74,012171,61597,603131.9%
2SN5Bedford, Huntingdonshire86,423139,96353,54062.0%
3B26Sheldon and Yardley in Birmingham207,447258,33250,88524.5%
4BS16Bristol, South Gloucestershire104,292135,40131,10929.8%
5GU11Aldershot64,37683,63519,25929.9%
6BL8Bury23,06934,70211,63350.4%
7SL1South Bucks, Slough124,681135,76411,0838.9%
8SL3Slough, South Bucks, Windsor and Maidenhead24,96133,7668,80535.3%
9MK44Bedford, Huntingdonshire17,29725,5698,27247.8%
10WD18Watford18,87026,8017,93142.0%

While most areas with a large increase in cars are mostly urban, MK44 was the only postcode district in the top 10 that is significantly rural.

The postcode with the biggest percentage increase in cars was E20 in London, which covers the Olympic Park and parts of Stratford, Homerton, Leyton and Bow across Newham, Waltham Forest, Hackney and Tower Hamlets. In E20, there was a massive 418% increase in licenced cars from 2014 to 2019. However, the actual number of cars is relatively small so E20 didn't make the top 10 list—the number of cars rose from 150 in 2014 to 777 in 2019, an increase of 627 cars.

Ranked by Biggest Percentage Change in Licenced Cars

10 Worst Areas with Biggest Percentage Change in Licenced CarsLocal AuthorityCars in Q2 2014Cars in Q2 2019Change% Change
1E20Newham, Waltham Forest, Hackney and Tower Hamlets150777627418%
2MK1Milton Keynes1,1984,0842,886241%
3MK14Milton Keynes74,012171,61597,603132%
4SN5Swindon86,423139,96353,54062%
5SW1WWestminster and Kensington and Chelsea2,4993,8011,30252%
6BD1Bradford1,0731,62655352%
7BL8Bury23,06934,70211,63350%
8MK44Bedford and Huntingdonshire17,29725,5698,27248%
9WD18Watford18,87026,8017,93142%
10B37Solihull13,20518,3225,11739%

Rural Postcode Districts with the Biggest Percentage Change in Cars

While urban areas dominate the top ten worst postcode districts, many rural areas also have to contend with more cars now. Even if the actual number of cars is lower, this can be a struggle as roads in small towns are often not equipped to provide necessary parking or handle heavier traffic flows. To capture these effects, we analysed the percentage change in cars in postcodes that are significantly rural.

CM24, covering Stansted Mountfitchet and Stansted Airport in Uttlesford, was the rural area with the biggest % change in cars, growing from 4,723 cars in 2014 to 5,893 cars in 2019, a 24.8% increase. Hemel Hempstead postcode district HP18, which includes parts of Aylesbury Vale, was close behind with a 23.8% increase.

10 Rural Postcodes with Biggest % Car IncreaseLocal AuthorityCars in Q3 2014Cars in Q2 2019% Change
1CM24Uttlesford4,7235,89324.8%
2HP18Aylesbury Vale9,81512,14823.8%
3SP11Test Valley, Wilstshire and Basingstoke and Deane15,28818,36620.1%
4SN14Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire16,84420,04019.0%
5SP9Wiltshire and Test Valley3,9404,62417.4%
6DL9North Yorkshire5,0065,82116.3%
7ME11Swale1,4561,68615.8%
8B50Stratford-on-Avon3,3923,90415.1%
9PO32Isle of Wight3,8964,48415.1%
10CB25South Cambridgeshire, East Cambridgeshire9,26510,63414.8%

Rounding out the top ten rural areas were SP11 (parts of Test Valley, Basingstoke and Deane, Wiltshire surrounding Andover), SN14 (parts of Chippenham), SP9 (Tidworth and Shipton Bellinger in Wiltshire and Test Valley), DL9 (Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire), ME11 (Queenborough and Rushenden in Swale), B50(Bidford-on-Avon in Straford-upon-Avon), PO32 (East Cowes and Whippingham on the Isle of Wight) and CB25 (parts of South Cambridgeshire and East Cambridgeshire).

Postcode Districts with Fewer Cars

While 9.3 out of 10 postcode districts have more licenced cars now than five years ago, there are some areas with fewer cars now than before. Two areas in Solihull, Birmingham, B93 and B94, have around 60% fewer licenced cars than they did in 2014. Also, two postcodes in Reading made the top ten list for areas with fewer cars now: there are 22,902 fewer cars in RG14 and 5,785 fewer cars in RG40.

Areas with Fewer CarsLocal AuthorityCars in Q3 2014Cars in Q2 2019Change% Change
1B93Solihull40,84317,257-23,586-57.7%
2LS28Leeds42,73019,828-22,902-53.6%
3RG14West Berkshire47,15425,354-21,800-46.2%
4M33Trafford and Manchester51,66230,176-21,486-41.6%
5GL1Gloucester31,44215,469-15,973-50.8%
6B94Solihull17,7775,496-12,281-69.1%
7RG40Wokingham and Bracknell Forest24,27318,488-5,785-23.8%
8CV1Coventry12,3856,880-5,505-44.4%
9NW1Camden and Westminster14,1619,353-4,808-34.0%
10WR5Worcester, Wychavon and Malvern Hills32,47730,363-2,114-6.5%

Number of Licenced Cars in All Postcode Districts by Region

The region with the biggest actual increase in licenced cars from 2014 to 2019 was the South East—364,918 additional cars hit the roads over the past five years, bringing the total number of licenced cars to 5,194,646.

The region with the biggest percentage increase in licenced cars from 2014 to 2019 was the South West, where there are now 8.7% more cars than five years ago.

RegionCars in Q2 2014Cars in Q2 2019Change% Change
South East4,829,7285,194,646364,9187.6%
South West2,954,5413,212,914258,3738.7%
East of England3,121,1283,336,134215,0066.9%
West Midlands2,851,9503,055,252203,3027.1%
North West3,067,9863,264,738196,7526.4%
East Midlands2,280,6872,456,963176,2767.7%
Yorkshire and The Humber2,297,3582,441,206143,8486.3%
London2,579,9872,656,78576,7983.0%
North East1,071,5981,139,46667,8686.3%
chart showing percentage change in number of cars for each postcode district in England

To see detailed data for each region, or to look up data for a specific postcode, see the individual car licence pages for each region:

Methodology

To determine which areas have many more cars than they did 5 years ago, we analysed data from the Department for Transport on licenced cars in each postcode district in England. We excluded postcode districts with fewer than 100 cars in 2019, because the data for areas with too few cars is not statistically as reliable. To determine which postcode districts are rural or urban, we used postcode classifications from Gov.uk.

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