• covent garden carpark

    Covent Garden Car Park Update

    Warwick District Council is planning to redevelop the Covent Garden car park to include a new Head Office together with residential apartments and a multi-story car park.  Representatives of the Leamington Chamber of Trade and BID Leamington have spent many hours discussing the proposals with Warwick District Council Officers, but there continue to be a number of areas about which we have serious concerns.

    Retailing has changed more dramatically in the last few years than ever before. People have busy lives and find internet shopping to be quick and convenient, but not everyone is the same and those with time to spare may still enjoy leisure shopping. Our beautiful town has attractive architecture; wide streets and pavements; a variety of large and small stores; a wide choice of cafes and restaurants and award-winning parks and gardens, so there can be nowhere better to provide a superb shopping experience than Royal Leamington Spa.

    The car is now the preferred mode of transport for the majority of shoppers in this area so if our town centre expects to compete against other towns or retail parks then it will need to provide an adequate amount of convenient and reasonably priced parking, but Leamington has fewer parking spaces today than it had twenty years ago. It is therefore not really surprising that footfall is reducing and leading stores are closing or moving out of the town centre.

    Redeveloping the town’s largest and possibly most important car park should have given Warwick District Council an opportunity to carry out a full evaluation of the town’s parking requirements before preparing any plans for the site. But it seems that WDC Officers have simply concentrated on providing themselves with a smart new Head Office without considering the impact the changes could have on the town centre businesses that generate prosperity for the area and employ hundreds of local people.

    A modern car park with a modest increase in the number of spaces will certainly benefit the town centre but the Covent Garden reconstruction will take up to two years, during which time 31% of the off-street parking in the town centre will be unavailable. WDC seem unconcerned about this and are telling us that they will introduce a displacement strategy to ensure that adequate parking is available during the reconstruction. This is easier said than done however and if a realistic number of parking spaces are not provided then shoppers will soon find somewhere else to spend their disposable income.

    The new car park will offer more parking than the one it is replacing but more than a hundred of the spaces will be reserved for Warwick District Council Officers and residents of the new apartments. When Riverside House closes then the 270 on-site parking spaces used by WDC staff and visitors will be removed and not replaced.  So where will up to two hundred WDC employees find to park when they move to the new Head Office building? We are told that only a small number will be offered free parking in the new Covent Garden car park and the remainder will be encouraged to park in Old Town and happily walk to and from their offices. In the real world the majority will probably buy a parking permit for the new car park or park on street, thereby adding to the parking congestion in the residential areas to the north of the town centre.

    Article kindly contributed by Brian Wall,
    Wall’s TV and Video

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