The Winchester Business Improvement District (BID) represents over 760 businesses in the city.
Winchester BID understands that the National Planning Policy Framework allows for considerable flexibility when Winchester City Council considers planning applications, however we feel this application contradicts the principal of the Winchester District Car Parking Strategy 2014 – 2018, which states that “the objective is to retain parking capacity in the town generally at current levels”.
This development, if approved, would see the loss of 58 spaces, in what the car parking strategy refers to as the ‘shopping quarter’. This would be in addition to the 351 spaces lost due to the closure of Friarsgate last year, totaling a loss of 409 spaces. We appreciate that the potential loss of these car parks is highlighted in the strategy; however, the Silver Hill development is integral to the rebalance of spaces and with the delay and uncertainty of the future of Silver Hill, we strongly believe that Winchester City Council should not consent to the loss of further parking spaces in the shopping quarter, especially as the strategy states that previous surveys demonstrate the need/demand for the existing parking provision in this quarter be maintained without taking into account future growth in population, office and retail demands.
We note that the development for the Extra Care scheme on Chesil Street surface car park was not listed as a forthcoming change to parking provision in the strategy, yet this provides a further loss of 81 spaces, which clearly impacts on the overall provision of city centre parking.
The opening of Pitt Manor Park and Ride is welcomed but does not rebalance the number of parking spaces overall or take into account feedback from the businesses community that the need for short-term central parking is vital to their success and required to reinforce their clients confidence in their available parking options.
The current infrastructure cannot cope with the number of visitors at Christmas and thus this has resulted in clients cancelling visits to retailers and service businesses because they were unable to access the city with ease, if at all. It has also resulted in the withdrawal of a commercial sale in Parchment Street.
We believe all of the aforementioned points need to be taken into consideration by Winchester City Council when reviewing this planning application. The BID is not against the proposal of a new surgery but we believe the loss of yet another city centre car park will have an impact on existing businesses and limit economic growth for the city. The BID strongly recommends the Council does not consent to the loss of further car parking spaces and suggest it seems illogical to do so before completion of a mid-term review of the parking strategy, which has been proposed by the portfolio holder in May 2016.