THE BRAKES should be put on plans to close Covent Garden car park say Leamington business bosses.
Leamington Business Improvement District (BID) and Chamber of Trade are calling on Warwick District Council to delay shutting the multi-storey for redevelopment amid growing concerns about the impact on parking in the town centre.
The council recently announced it was pushing back the car park’s closure until next March while a displacement parking plan was finalised.
But business chiefs say this does not leave enough time to implement the plan and complete work at the alternative sites. They want the closure delayed until January 2020.
The car park is set to shut for 18 months while the site is converted into new council offices, apartments and a new multi-storey.
Chair of Leamington Chamber of Trade, Julie McGarrige said “The removal of 468 town centre parking spaces at this time, without providing easy and convenient alternative parking, may jeopardise the future of town centre businesses at a time when trading conditions are already incredibly difficult.”
An independent review of the council’s plan to accommodate users of Covent Garden during the closure has also highlighted the ‘critical importance’ of a displacement plan.
The review – conducted by a parking consultancy jointly appointed by WDC and BID Leamington – recently reported its findings.
It found a shortfall in long stay parking during the week and short stay parking in close proximity to the town centre on Saturdays.
It also highlighted issues about the location of spaces, signage, marketing and additional parking for events.
Director of BID, Stephanie Kerr said: “We welcome the council’s commitment to not close car parks until its displacement parking plan is finalised, however it also needs to be implemented.
“The report has put forward a number of suggestions to improve the plan, although some have already been discounted and there is more work to do.
“Many of those suggestions require further research and consultation and in some cases, planning permission is needed to enable delivery.
“With this in mind, we believe it would be prudent for Warwick District Council to consider our request to delay the closure until January 2020 as we feel this would give the council the opportunity to resolve critical issues, open new car parks and may also allow time for other parts of the scheme to be reviewed if necessary.”
Warwick District Council says the car park will not close until a ‘robust’ displacement strategy is in place.
A spokeswoman told the Observer: “Councillors are due to consider a report on the relocation project in the new year. The council has already given a commitment that the car park will not close until a robust parking displacement strategy is in place and this will be detailed in that report.
“There will also be a full update on the council’s response to the recommendations of the independent review of the displacement strategy which were predominantly accepted in full.”