Chester's parking plan unveiled

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Plan to ensure Chester's parking provision remains fit for purpose unveiled

An action plan to ensure parking in Chester is fit for purpose and positively contributes to the city's economy has been published.

The plan, designed to better manage car parking demand across the city, is part of the Council's 15-year parking strategy. It will see fairer and consistent tariffs across different car parks, attractive offers to replace the Free after 3 scheme, and a clear investment programme to improve the quality of car parking and attract more visitors and shoppers.

Length of stay restrictions and on-street charges will also be implemented in locations where demand is high and often exceeds capacity.

Population and car ownership rates are steadily rising and land available for car parking is decreasing.

Over the coming years, the Council will need to invest in car parks so that we have enough clean and safe spaces, in the right places, with clear signage and new technology to make it easier and more convenient for people coming to Chester by car.

This action plan for Chester hopefully will address the issues facing residents who live in areas where commuters regularly park, introducing the right offers in the right places to encourage visitors, improving disabled provision, and reducing congestion and air pollution.

Parking in Chester will be easier and more accessible for everyone and we are supporting residents, businesses and the visitor economy.

Changes to parking charges and introducing time restrictions will ensure everyone can park where they need to and altering the restrictions and charging on specific roads will ensure parking is fair across the city.

To support businesses better, and to increase the time shoppers spend in the city, the Council wants to introduce a range of more flexible offers to encourage trade throughout the day and ease the pressure on the evening peak hour.

The current 'Free after 3 ' scheme services a small amount of people so instead we're bringing in a range of offers that cater for all types of people wanting to visit Chester.

Air pollution is an issue that Chester residents want action on so we are trialling free use of Park and Ride after 2pm mid-week, which we hope will encourage people to leave the car at home, reduce congestion and improve air quality."

The Council is currently consulting on its Low Emissions Strategy, which will ensure that local air quality meets the required standards. Chester city centre is one of three Air Quality Management Areas in the borough — where nitrogen dioxide exceedances have been detected and levels are monitored.

Key actions within the plan include:

Changes to parking tariffs
Changes to parking charges will help to support short stay parking in central car parks, discourage commuters from parking for extended hours in areas where demand is high and encourage longer stay parking at the city's outer facilities.

This will see simplified, reduced rates being implemented, which are easier to understand:
Trinity Street — reduced tariff for up to two hours' stay
Cuppin Street — reduced tariff for up to one hour stay
Market — cheaper for all durations
Delamere Street — cheaper for all durations

A flat rate of £5 all day will be introduced at Little Roodee and Watergate Street to encourage longer stay use.

Modest parking charges will be introduced in the heavily oversubscribed Bishop Street car park in Hoole to help ensure shoppers can find a space by reducing the number of people parking all day. Walker Street will become a long stay car park for permit holders. The Council will work closely with local residents and businesses to ensure their parking needs are identified.

On-street parking charges
These will be introduced in three locations in the city — City Road, Brook Street and Foregate Street. Charges will be set at £1 per hour (or part hour) up to 6pm and at a flat rate of £1 after 6pm.

Length of stay restrictions operate until 6pm at all three locations. The current time restriction on City Road will be increased from one hour to a maximum of two hours and the restriction on Foregate Street will be increased from 30 minutes to 1 hour. As in other locations, the Council will work with local residents to ensure that their parking needs are identified.

Investment in maintaining car parks across the borough and bringing all up to a good standard
The Council has committed to ensure that:

  • car parks are safe and clean
  • we have enough parking for people with mobility problems
  • we have good signage
  • we use new technology to make visits easier and flexible

    To support this, local parking provision in need of maintenance has been identified within the action plan and a programme of long-term investment will ensure that all facilities are brought up to standard. Much of this, especially high priority improvements, will start between January and June 2018.

    More detail can be found in the action plan.

    Options to replace Free after 3
    Analysis suggests that Free after 3 is having only a limited impact, while contributing to the evening peak in traffic and air pollution. The time spent in the city by those using the offer is short — in most cases less than an hour.

    CH1ChesterBID's monthly footfall statistics don't show a discernible rise in visitors to the city centre after 3pm. The number of people generally steadily rises throughout the morning, peaking at around 1pm but does not spike after 3pm as might be expected.

    Alternatives offers include:

  • Trial free after 2pm on a mid-week day on Park and Ride
  • Reduced tariffs in some car parks
  • Discounts for motorists arriving within certain times
  • Discounted evening parking
  • Weekend discounts
  • Offers during quiet seasonal periods

    A key option the Council will look to develop with businesses is a 'spend and save' offer where participating retailers refund or part-pay for parking charges when customers spend with them.

    Overnight charges implemented in some car parks
    Little Roodee will charge £8 for between 12 and 24 hours.

    Length of stay restrictions
    The action plan also sees a maximum stay of 4 hours introduced at Sandy Lane car park. It is also planned to introduce length of stay restrictions in nearby on-street bays.

    The full action plan can be found at https://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/parkingstrategy2017.

    A number of Traffic Regulation Orders will be published soon detailing the plans to introduce on-street charging, and to change restrictions and tariffs and will be available to view via the same web address.