What next for parking displacement plan as part of HQ build in Leamington?

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Plans to cover for some of the loss of car parking spaces in Leamington during Warwick District Council’s HQ move project will still be discussed this week despite a major site having been removed from the proposals.

In a response to a public outcry the council has withdrawn its plan to build a car park with 80 spaces on the public tennis courts at Christchurch Gardens in Leamington town centre.

The tennis courts were one of four sites earmarked to be built on or expanded as part of the council’s parking displacement strategy which aims to offset the impact the temporary loss of 468 spaces during the work at the Covent Garden multi-storey car park will have on the town centre.

Now the council needs to put forward another site and some have already suggested that a better solution would be to build a temporary multi-storey structure on the site of Chandos Street car park near Christchurch Gardens.

BID Leamington remains concerned that insufficient provision is being made for the loss of parking during the planned development of Covent Garden, and that the new car park will not be able to meet increased demand from the new headquarters and apartments, or support the future development of other town centre car parks.

It has carried out a detailed analysis of town centre car parking provision, which was included in the representation they made on the planning application, and showed that the Covent Garden site (currently 468 spaces) accounts for 31 per cent of off-street spaces in the town and 36 per cent prior to the closure of the top town levels (124 spaces).

Its research also indicates that Leamington town centre is currently short of at least 1,000 off-street parking spaces compared to similar town centres and demand is expected to increase by 17 per cent in the coming years.

Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, said: “The proposed development of Covent Garden will disrupt an average of 25,000 users per month and up to 29,000 users across peak months.”

“An average of 806 cars use Covent Garden every day and at any one time, an average of 394 use it on week days, while on weekends at peak times it is often at capacity with over 440 spaces in use.”

“Given car parking to serve shoppers ideally needs to be within 400m of their destination, this shows that providing less than 300 spaces in a piecemeal range of locations that are more than 1km from the town centre, falls significantly short of what is needed.”

BID Leamington says its solution to help mitigate disruption would be to turn Chandos Street from a surface to a multi-storey car park with the creation of three additional levels prior to the planned closure of Covent Garden. They consulted businesses on this idea in 2017 and it was outlined in their representation on the planning application.

Stephanie added: “Warwick District Council has said it will put forward a displacement strategy but from what we have seen to date, we do not feel it would sufficiently mitigate unless the Chandos Street option is considered as part of other measures that should also include funding for marketing, monitoring and business compensation should their ideas fall short. It is clear more research and engagement with the community is needed.”

“We are committed to working with Warwick District Council not only to improve parking in the long-term but to attract the right kind of investment to take the town forward.

“However, we feel that this needs to be delivered in a way that responsibly mitigates any disruption to businesses.”

Other sites earmarked for car parking spaces include the current car park in Princes Drive next to Victoria Park which would have an extra 50 spaces.

Also on the list is the car park at the end of Archery Road which would have an additional 37 space.

All of these aforementioned sites would remain as car parks after the HQ build is completed.

But none are within 400 metres of the town centre’s main shopping area which is considered a ‘golden standard’ for parking for shoppers.

Land off Court Street near the Althorpe Enterprise Hub would be used to provide 80 temporary spaces while the work takes place.

Part of the plans also include allowing the public to use the car park at the council’s current Riverside House HQ.

The plans are expected to cost £770,000 to implement,

The council has been approached for a comment as to what its next step will be in regard to finding another site for the parking displacement strategy.

The authority’s executive will meet at Leamington town hall on Wednesday evening where the strategy, as it stands, will be discussed.