Transport for London (TfL) has announced permanent changes to the Congestion Charge (CC).

Most of the changes will come into force next Monday - December 20 - except for new charging hours which start early next year.

From February 21, there will no longer be charges after 6pm and operating hours on weekends and bank holidays will be reduced to noon to 6pm.

The charge for driving within the zone will remain at £15.

TfL says these changes will address traffic challenges in central London and also support the capital's culture, hospitality and night-time businesses.

The CC will also be suspended between Christmas and the first working day of the New Year.

This is intended to support families and visitors in what is traditionally a time of increased engineering work on the rail network and a quieter period on the roads.

As part of temporary Covid measures brought in last year, the CC was raised from £11.50 to the current level and operating hours were broadened to include evenings and weekends.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The government insisted on proposals to widen the level and scope of the Congestion Charge last year as a condition of TfL's emergency funding agreement - which was only needed because of the pandemic and the collapse in fares revenue."

These new changes "strike a balance between reducing traffic and congestion and supporting London's economy and residents", added Mr Khan.

Other changes include: reopening the 90pc residents' discount for new applicants and extending the delayed payment deadline to three days after the day of travel. The delayed payment charge is £17.50.

The Auto Pay and Fleet Auto Pay discount will be removed, as will the ability for residents to pay by app or online for multiple consecutive charging days.

Reimbursement arrangements for NHS staff and certain essential trips will continue.

The changes have been announced following a 10-week public consultation, which TfL confirms received nearly 10,000 responses.

TfL director of city planning, Alex Williams, said: “These changes are targeted at reducing traffic at the busiest times where we have seen a long-term trend in high levels of car travel.

"The removal of the charge in the evening will help shift workers who perform essential roles at the heart of the city and support London’s vibrant cultural and hospitality sectors who are still recovering from the pandemic.”