Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, is proposing to give drivers a “grace period” to allow them to park outside shops or keep their vehicles in parking bays for longer.
In an attempt to strike a deal with their Liberal Democrat colleagues, the Conservatives are also proposing to allow higher parking fines outside the capital for people who park dangerously.
The Tories hope that the plans, which would represent the biggest shake up to parking fines in Britain for more than a decade, can be implemented within months to help revive ailing High Streets.
A source close to Mr Pickles said: “The High Street is in danger of shrinking or dying off, and over-aggressive parking enforcement is part of the reason why.
“If people are worried about paying a fortune in parking fines, it will make them more likely to do their shop online or go to out of town shopping centres. For too long parking has been a revenue raiser. It’s time to end that.
“There is room for a deal [with the Liberal Democrats]. Dangerous parking is a menace to people, whereas if you’re in the parking bay or just on the side of the road you’re not presenting any risk.”
However, the Conservatives are likely to meet with resistance from their Coallition colleagues, who have raised concerns that a grace period will prove “unworkable”.
They also want to seek the cap on parking fines lifted for all illegal parking, not just dangerous parking. At present, the cap on parking fees outside London is £70, compared to £130 in the capital.
Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat transport minister, said: “We are keen to ensure that the High Street works for businesses by stopping people parking illegally for hours on end.
“I have been in discussions with other colleagues from government about how we can best take decisions on this forward.
“This is about tackling motorists who are parking illegally, not about raising charges for those who park legally.”
Mr Pickles first proposed introducing a grace period for motorists in May, when he said that parking charges had become “ridiculously high” and that drivers are being used as “cash cows” by local authorities.
The grace period could be introduced either by amending existing legislation or introducing new guidance for local authorities.
Several local authorities already allow motorists to park free for up to 30 minutes near local shops, and the Conservatives want to implement similar schemes more widely.
However, Mr Pickles and fellow Conservative ministers are opposed to the Liberal Democrat plans to lift cap on maximum parking fines for all offences. “There are already far too many ways that the state can fine you.
“Lifting the cap on parking fines across the board would make parking fines bigger than the penalties given to shoplifters. It would be criminalising people who just want to go shopping.”