Friday, 15 February 2019

‘Town centre needs more parking spaces to help businesses’

HENLEY needs more parking spaces to help sustain the town’s economy, says a town councillor.

Stefan Gawrysiak said that an investigation should be carried out into the feasibility of adding a deck to either the Greys Road or King’s Road car parks.

This idea has been discussed for years but environmental campaigners say it would be better to encourage people to use public transport or walk.

Councillor Gawrysiak was speaking at a meeting of the town council’s transport strategy group, which he chairs.

He said it was up to South Oxfordshire District Council, which is responsible for the car parks, to come up with the costings and feasibility of the project and its impact on tourism.

Cllr Gawrysiak said: “For the economic sustainability of Henley high street I think we will need to investigate a double-decker car park in the centre.

“What we have to do is get the district council to see that this is a desirable direction of travel and come out with full costings and analysis. We have also got to bear in mind that the district council is running a £2million budget deficit per year.

“We have to be realistic about asking for a million quid for a car park.”

Cath Adams, planning and project manager at the town council, said the scheme could be put forward for the Future High Streets Fund, a £675 million pot of cash being made available by the Government to help towns where retailers are struggling. Councillor Will Hamilton suggested creating an underground parking level at the Greys Road car park.

Resident member Ian Clark questioned where cars would be parked if and when construction took place.

David Dickie, of the Clean Air for Henley group, said: “We have got an air quality problem  and I’d rather see out-of-town car parking.”

He asked that only electric cars should be allowed to use the new deck, adding: “At least there might be some benefit from an air quality point of view.”

Patrick Fleming, treasurer of environmental campaign group Henley in Transition, said: “Rather than double decking in the middle of town, how about double decking the long stay car parks?

“Get them to double deck part of the station car park and that would provide extra car parking without having all the traffic coming into the town centre.”

Dave McEwen, chairman of Henley in Transition, said: “One of the aims of this group is about reducing the amount of car journeys.

“It seems to me that double decking is encouraging the number of car journeys and increasing the pollution in the town.

“It would only need a shift of five per cent in the proportion of car journeys and you would make a difference.”

In 1994 the district council drew up plans for a deck at the King’s Road car park that would have provided about 100 more spaces but the idea was not followed through. Three years ago, the council budgeted £700,000 to create a deck at the car park.

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

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