Thursday, 18 August 2022

We need bigger car park to lure people, says Deputy Mayor

We need bigger car park to lure people, says Deputy Mayor

THE Deputy Mayor of Henley wants to revive plans for a multi-storey car park in the town centre to encourage shoppers.

Ken Arlett says there aren’t enough spaces in the two main car parks, which puts off both residents and visitors.

He claims the answer is to add a deck to the King’s Road car park next to Waitrose, which is already bigger than the Greys Road car park.

Councillor Arlett said: “The problem is you go to Greys Road and it’s full, so you drive round a couple of times, then go to King’s Road and that’s also full.

“So you drive round that a couple of times and then think to yourself ‘why do I shop here?’

“People are generally lazy — I am the same — and don’t want to park and walk to where they are going to shop.

“For example, people are not going to park at the rugby club and then walk to Waitrose.”

In 1994 South Oxfordshire District Council, which is responsible for the car parks, drew up plans for a deck at the King’s Road car park that would provide about 100 more spaces.

Cllr Arlett said: “For some reason the majority group on the district council decided against going ahead with it and over the years the car park has become more and more busy.

“Putting an extra tier on a car park is a no-brainer. All you need to do is put the parking charges up a wee bit to pay for it. With more footfall more will be spent in the shops.”

He said the move would also help reduce air pollution as drivers would find a space more quickly rather than having to keep driving round looking foe one.

Speaking at a meeting of Henley Town Council’s town and community committee, Cllr Arlett called on the town’s district councillors to revive the plan. Town, district and county councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said he would ask for a feasibility study to be carried out but he felt that it would better to turn the Greys Road car park into a multi-storey.

“The reason is that it is surrounded by businesses,” he said. “King’s Road has a residential element and you don’t want people looking into other people’s gardens.

“There is a view that we should restrict parking due to the pollution aspects but when people are circulating the car parks to find a space it is not good compared with them just driving in and finding a space.

“A bigger car park would provide more capacity.”

Councillor Lorraine Hillier, who chairs the district council said: “The lack of parking is the one thing we are struggling with and it is affecting people coming into Henley.

“When we had the pedestrianisation of the market place in the early Nineties I didn’t think a multi-storey car park would work because I thought it would lead to gridlock at King’s Road but I can now see the merits, possibly at Greys Road.” District councillor Joan Bland said she would prefer an underground car park.

“There was a missed opportunity when the old garage in Bell Street was developed for housing,” she said. “It would have been easy for a multi-storey car park to go there.”

Two years ago, the district council set aside £770,000 in its capital growth budget for a single layer of decking at the King’s Road car park.

The scheme, which would have added about 90 pay-and-display spaces to the existing 340 ones, was also suggested as a possible way to create extra capacity in the draft of the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan. 

At the time, town councillors expressed concern that it would simply attract more traffic and that a decision on whether to proceed should be a joint one and not imposed by the district.

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters

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