Sunday, 9 June 2013

Knowle parking charges approved amid outcry

PLANS to charge for car parking in Knowle have been approved despite a raft of objections from businesses, residents and the developer of a planned Waitrose store.

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Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council approved the plan for charges for three hours and more in a bid to free up spaces in its six car parks.

Charges would be: 50p for three to four hours; £1 for four to five hours; £1.50 for five to six hours and £2 for more than six hours. Parking is currently limited from to two to four hours.

Some 46 people gave theirviews and concerns centred on the impact on workers and residents who do not have their own parking and on a forthcoming Waitrose store plan.

But a council officers’ report said: “Employee parking should not be at the detriment of the vitality and viability of Knowle Village Centre through restricting the use of spaces by those who wish to shop in or visit the local centre.”

It said workers could use public transport, taxis, car sharing, walking and cycling though this “may not be possible for all” and it would consider suggestions.

The charge will be brought in by the end of September “subject to further consideration of the issues raised through the consultation” the council agreed this week.

A Waitrose store has been approved for a former bowling green by the Red Lion pub, to use council spaces. The number of spaces in St Johns Close and Tesco will rise from 218 to 266.

Kimberley Developments, which is behind the scheme, said it has “serious misgivings” the plan would see too many park all day, reducing shoppers’ spaces.

It said: “If our new development is to proceed we would have to have confidence that at least the majority of the new enlarged and refurbished car park, that we would construct at our cost, would be operated as a shoppers car park.”

The council said it will “monitor the situation and work with them to consider if any changes are necessary to support the development”.

Hunters estate agents said: “The current arrangement works well and if you make all car parking payable this will cause conflict and immense problems for those who work all day in the village and have no way of getting here other than by car.

“Thriving towns and village centres need to accommodate the car and not fight against the car.”

A Bickenhill Lane, Catherine de Barnes resident said: “I work in Knowle and therefore have no choice but to park in Knowle every day.

“There is no public transport from where I live to Knowle nor there is a footpath should I decide to add on extra two plus hours to my day by walking to and from work.

“The parking restrictions are likely to cost me an additional £500.00 per year…when I am already struggling to meet my everyday living expenses.”

An associate of property firm Citrus said of workers: “If charging is brought in one of their options will then be to park in residential roads on the periphery of the village.”

They said: “I believe that introducing an additional financial burden on what politicians like to refer to as 'hard working ordinary people' is very insensitive in these times and will not reflect well on the way that Solihull Council supports the people who live and work in the borough.”

Shipways estate agent said: “I would ask that some free all day parking is designated for local workers / employees.

“If your plans go ahead, they will impact negatively on local businesses who will have to refund their employees parking costs.”

Ripples bathrooms suggested free or discounted permits, saying: “We are happy that the parking is being reviewed as we have all heard stories of people parking for free in Knowle and then going to work in Solihull, or even to the airport for holiday, which takes spaces away from shoppers.”

A “local doctor” wrote: “All-day parking in Knowle should be either made not possible or discouraged in the strongest terms.”

And a Longdon Road resident said: “Local shoppers may find it even more difficult to park than at present as many of the spaces will be taken up by long stay motorists.”
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