A city parking levy could be the first step towards a full scale congestion charge, an authority has admitted.
The levy would target businesses in Nottingham, eventually charging up to £350 for each car space.
A public examination is being held next week which will allow businesses and the public to voice their opinions.
But the city council has said the levy could eventually give way to a charge like the one in place in London, which works on an individual journey basis.
Brian Parbutt, Nottingham City Council, said: "The congestion charge would be much further in the future than any workplace parking levy.
"And the council would see that if it came in, if that was something we would do, it would be something that replaces the workplace parking levy not something in addition to it."
If approved, the levy is expected to start in Nottingham in 2010 and cost £185 per year, rising to £350 in 2014.
It is expected to raise £12m a year which would go towards public transport improvements and a second tram line.
Concerns have already been raised about the effect on smaller businesses and the lack of practical alternatives for shift workers.
A report recently published by the East Midlands Development Agency found that congestion costs the East Midlands economy £935m per year.
The Nottingham Federation of Small Businesses is holding a debate on congestion charging and the Workplace Parking Levy on 27 September.
A public inquiry into the second tram line is due to begin in November.