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Newbury facing car parking crisis

Town will 'run out of spaces' unless 'something drastic is done'

NEWBURY will run out of car parking spaces in the next 10 years unless ‘something drastic is done’.

A study commissioned by West Berkshire Council shows that demand for off-street parking in the town – driven by future housing developments and an ever-growing population – is set to increase to such an extent that by 2026 there will be a shortfall.

The council has acknowledged the ‘problem’ and is now considering a number of options, including increasing parking stock, improved access and signage – but admits it doesn’t know how much it will cost or how it will be funded.

Despite the looming crisis, the council has again ruled out the possibility of a park and ride scheme, saying it is not viable and ‘not the preferred option’ as it would have to subsidise it.

But it hinted that it might be prepared to extend its hugely unpopular on-street parking charges and increase the cost of some residents’ permits, saying the former would ‘appear to present an opportunity to generate additional revenue’.

The report’s findings were revealed following a major review of parking across the district and has led to renewed calls for a ‘complete overhaul’ of Newbury’s infrastructure and transport system.

The council is looking at improving cycle routes and parking facilities and working with residents to create personal travel plans that encourage them to use other forms of transport to try and address the issue.

Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North), who sat on the task group that carried out the review, said: “There is going to be a time where we will simply run out of car parking spaces unless something drastic is done.

“We have a problem and the only way I can see it being resolved is a complete overhaul of our local transport system.”

As part of the proposed Market Street development, a new multi-storey car park will be built to compensate for the loss of the existing car park.

But if the 225 home development is approved, just 60 per cent of those houses are expected to have allocated parking.

A number of car parking spaces are also expected to be lost if Newbury’s bus station relocates to the Wharf as planned.

And another 2,000 homes are expected to be built in Newbury over the next 14 years as part of the proposed Sandleford development.

But in its report, the council says: “It is anticipated that there will be a redevelopment of the Kennet Centre in the 10 years to 2025 which will present an opportunity for the provision of additional car parking capacity, required to meet the projected demand.”

Mr Dillon said: “If we are going to run out of car parking spaces then there isn’t going to be anywhere for people to park and the town will suffer. Something has to give.”

In its response to the review, the council says: “On evenings with heavy demand, the most convenient car parks may be full, causing people to use spare capacity elsewhere in the town.

“This may not be attractive, potentially reducing the appeal of coming to Newbury for evening entertainment.”

The review also notes there is a ‘recognised demand’ for additional car parking in Thatcham.

During a recent council meeting at which the parking review was discussed, James Fredrickson admitted “there will be an increase in demand and we need to prepare for that”.

The review of car parking across the district was held in December 2015 and took into account residents parking schemes, on-street parking and off-street parking.

As part of the review the council says it may have to look at increase the cost of permits for residents who are allowed to park in council car parks overnight.

Some residents are permitted to use West Street and Pelican Lane car parks overnight where there is insufficient parking near their homes.

The council operates 28 car parks throughout West Berkshire, with the majority of them in Newbury.

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