Main Changes to Local Plan 2030

Policy TRA2 - Strategic Public Parking Facilities (MC64)

Page 215 Policy TRA2 Paras 5.242 – 5.253

Response to reps 1251; 1905; 2229; 2302; 2536

Changes to supporting text in Public Parking Facilities serving the Town Centre and Policy TRA2 – Strategic Public Parking Facilities as follows:

Public Parking Facilities Serving The Town Centre

5.242 The availability of publicly available car parking has a major influence on the means of transport chosen and is also recognised as being crucial to ensuring new development is successful. The Commercial Quarter (policy S1) in particular envisages a significant amount of new office space which requires adequate parking nearby to ensure commercial terms can be achieved and space can be successfully let, at least in its initial stages.

5.243 The Parking Study that supports this Local Plan set out the need for new town centre parking to partly replace existing car parks and partly to cater for additional demand from new development (some of which relates to development that is subject to extant planning approval). It also explored the merits of a Park and Ride Facility on the outskirts of the town.

5.244 The Study highlighted that that the town centre currently has enough vacant car parking spaces to cater for current and future demand. However, this position was caveated in that not all of these spaces are truly available in practice as many were located on the periphery of the town centre in relatively inaccessible locations and therefore it is questionable how attractive these spaces are for short stay users. Also, a number of vacant spaces are also housed in either car parks that are privately run, meaning the Council has little control over operations, or at Edinburgh Road and Vicarage Lane Car Parks - publically owned car parks which have the potential to be suitable locations for redevelopment in the longer term but which play a key role in supporting the town centre at the current time.

5.245 In light of the above, the Study recognised that a flexible approach to parking was needed, one which can best respond to development as it comes forward in a way that caters for both the needs of long stay and short stay users.

Elwick Place

5.246 Elwick Place will become a significant new retail and leisure destination in the Town Centre through the delivery of a new multi-screen cinema and hotel and a number of new restaurants. A new public car park that will provide for an additional 280 car parking spaces will also be delivered. Not only will this car park cater for the retail and leisure development at Elwick Place, it will also become a key facility that supports growth in the wider town centre and also provide flexibility in the parking stock.

Multi Storey Car Parks

5.247 In Ashford town centre, delivering new multi-storey car parks (MSCPs) has been a long held aspiration of the Council and it remains a valid one. New MSCPs will provide the opportunity to redevelop some of the Town Centre’s existing surface level car parks – highly accessible and sustainable brownfield sites - through the decanting of spaces to new MSCPs. In order to be successful, MSCPs generally need to be located in accessible locations near to shops and leisure facilities and in doing so tend to cater for the shorter term parking demand. They also need to be clean, attractive and provide a sense of safety for their its users.

5.248 In the Ashford Town Centre Area Action Plan (2010), land was allocated to deliver two MSCPs at Victoria Road and New Street by 2020. These were both required to meet the needs generated by significant levels of planned retail and leisure development, envisaged to come forward by 2020.

5.249 This Local Plan is not proposing to deliver such large scale of development in the Town Centre. Nevertheless, MSCP provision is still seen as an important component of meeting parking needs in the longer term to respond to development coming forward. Although not allocated in this Local Plan, land at Victoria Road close to the pedestrian bridge over the railway lines remains a suitable and practical location for such a facility given its excellent accessibility to the core of the town centre area. Discussions are ongoing with the developers here for such provision to be secured. In addition, policy S1 of this Local Plan identifies land within the Commercial Quarter for the delivery of a new MSCP (of around 400 - 600 spaces), on land largely owned by the Council.

5.250 Although MSCPs tend to best serve short stay users, it is highly likely that they will also partially meet long stay demands, especially as new commercial development starts coming forward in the town centre, until such time that a new park and ride facility is operational which can cater for this demand in a more sustainable way.

5.251 Should a MSCP be delivered, the Council may then wish to pursue the redevelopment of some its existing car parking stock in the Town Centre. These proposals will need to demonstrate that there is spare capacity in existing public parking stock serving the town centre, that is currently operational or which will be provided elsewhere as part of the redevelopment. This may include provision at a Park and Ride facility, particularly for the longer term spaces.


Park and Ride Future Capacity Options

5.252 The Council retains the view considers that Park and Ride is an important component of its longer term parking strategy, particularly to support new office development in the town centre. In light of this, a Park and Ride facility is safeguarded at Chilmington Green through the Chilmington Green Area Action Plan (not superseded by this Local Plan) and at the Warren., and will continue to be reserved until it is decided that the facility is no longer required.

5.253 At this time, accepting that there is no Park and Ride facility serving Ashford Town Centre, evidence from the council’s discussions with the commercial office developers demonstrate an unwillingness to provide a parking solution that doesn't provide for dedicated parking spaces on-site (or nearby) as this is what the majority of potential tenants desire. This view reflects the fact that the market for new offices in the town centre is currently fragile and such schemes carry significant risks to the developers, so they need to present an attractive package to potential tenants.

5.254 The Parking Study also explored the merits of a Park and Ride Facility on the outskirts of the town on land reserved for this purpose at The Warren. It was determined that, while that site has excellent access from the M20 and the A20 on the western side of the town, concerns had been raised that it was located too close to the town centre to act as an effective Park and Ride site. It is possible that a future Park & Ride facility located further from the town centre but with good accessibility to the main radial routes into the town and /or the motorway junctions would be potentially more successful in the long run.

5.253 In the medium to longer term, it is anticipated that the new office sector in the town centre will thrive and in doing so become a less risky and more desirable investment for the market. In such circumstances, the values secured through the delivery of office accommodation in the town centre will rise substantially and this will result in Park and Ride becoming a more desirable and cost effective option of securing parking space to support new development. In turn this will drive demand and patronage that would financially underpin the operation of a Park & Ride service. Combined, this may allow for a more restrictive ‘on-site’ parking policy to be implemented by the Council in the town centre with a view of incentivising park and ride. This issue will be revisited as part of a formal review of this Local Plan. Given this aspiration, it is prudent for the option of a Park and Ride facility at the Warren to be maintained in this Local Plan.

5.255 In the meantime, the Council intends to use CIL receipts to help deliver both the MSCP and Park and Ride provision as set out in this section.

As a result of the above, Policy TRA2 amended as follows:

TRA2 – Strategic Town Centre Public Parking Facilities

The Council will prioritise the delivery of two new multi-storey public car parks, one of which will have an indicative capacity of 300 spaces, and at the other with an indicative capacity of 400 – 600 spaces. four strategic public parking facilities by 2030 in the form of:

  • two multi-storey car parks, at Victoria Road (indicative capacity 300 spaces ) and at the Commercial Quarter (indicative capacity 400 - 600 spaces); and,
  • two Park and Ride facilities at Chilmington Green and at the Warren (indicative capacity 800 spaces).

Proposals which would prejudice the ability to deliver these facilities on a viable basis will be refused unless it has been agreed with the Borough Council that the facility is either no longer required or the alternative provision of the same amount of car parking can be delivered in a suitable location.