Sunday, 19 January 2020

Council rejects idea of creating more spaces at car park

Council rejects idea of creating more spaces at car park

A PROPOSAL to create a second level at King’s Road car park in Henley has been rejected.

Henley Town Council put forward the idea in order to provide more pay and display spaces at the car park near Waitrose, which currently has 380 bays but is often full.

The council said it was concerned about drivers having to circle the car park, causing congestion and additional pollution.

It suggested installing a deck using a prefabricated lightweight, moveable structure that would create another 60 spaces.

But South Oxfordshire District Council, which is responsible for both the King’s Road and Greys Road car parks, has responded by saying it is not willing to work on a business case.

Liz Hayden, head of housing and environment, said a series of studies would need to be commissioned before action could be taken.

She continued: “The proposal to install decking in King’s Road car park is a major project.

“I do not think that the council can agree to work with you to develop a business case in order to pursue this proposal at this time and would not be in a position to prioritise funding without additional information and evidence of the need being greater in Henley than elsewhere.

“We are concerned that providing additional parking spaces may act to encourage more vehicles to come into the town centre and potentially worsen the quality of the air.

“I think it would be beneficial for you to consider the potential options for the two car parks that are owned by Henley Town Council [Henley Rugby Club and Mill Meadows].”

She said the district council would explore how the necessary analysis could be funded.

Town clerk Sheridan Jacklin-Edward said he was disappointed at the response.

He said: “It is clear that the proposed scheme would improve the vitality of the high street and encourage people to shop locally.

“It would also ease town centre congestion and pollution caused by cars cruising for parking spaces, create opportunities for the district council to install more electric vehicle and car club spaces in the car parks and increase the district council’s commercial income, which could be invested in local facilities, such as renovating the appalling public toilets.”

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, who is a member of both councils, described Mrs Hayden’s response as “inadequate”.

“It doesn’t address the issues,” he said. “What we need to do and what we will do is put forward a business case for actually getting an extra deck on the King’s Road car park because it would be a revenue earner for the district council.

“If the extra deck is built for a cost we estimate to be about £700,000 then there will be return on that investment in five or six years.

“It would mean that Henley would continue to be vibrant going forward as a destination town and shopping centre and we would stop cars circulating the car park pumping out pollution while looking for a space.”

The district council earmarked £770,000 for the decking project in its capital growth budget in 2016 but this was delayed for a feasibility study to be carried out. The council claimed it needed more evidence to prove there was congestion in the town.

Later it said the study would not be commissioned because the project has been taken out of the budget.

This was then followed by an admission that a study had been carried out in 2015, which concluded that the decking project was not suitable and recommended improved signage to relieve the problem.

Now the council says that air quality in Henley has improved in “all but one of the areas measured” over the last few years.

Mr Jacklin-Edward said the town council would now work on a comprehensive business case in order to persuade the district council to change its mind.

A similar proposal has been put forward for the Greys Road car park, which has 147 spaces.

The town council is also considering spending nearly £68,000 on electric signs to warn drivers when the main two cars parks are full. The system could also measure levels of air pollution.

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