Hatfield multi-storey plans spark parking charge fears

PUBLISHED: 12:34 13 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:38 13 November 2017

The Common Car Park in Hatfield, where the new multi-storey car park will be built. Picture credit: Welwyn Hatfield Council

The Common Car Park in Hatfield, where the new multi-storey car park will be built. Picture credit: Welwyn Hatfield Council

Archant

Hatfield residents have aired fears of a ploy to introduce parking charges after the £6million multi-storey car park plans were unveiled.

The borough council said its 600-space scheme aims to release car parks elsewhere – which take up a third of the town centre – to enable retail and housing development.

While some welcomed the idea, many vented fears on social media that motorists would be herded into paid-for parking – claiming it would inevitably impact already-flailing footfall.

A borough council spokeswoman said: “The council has not made any decisions about introducing charging for the multi-storey car park and it will be considered as part of our budget-setting process in future years.”

Labour leader Kieran Thorpe claimed it makes no sense to build homes over already-full car parks, adding it is clearly the first step towards paid-for parking and squeezing in new homes.

Kieran Thorpe, Labour Kieran Thorpe, Labour

“The ‘Mary Portas review’ of Hatfield town centre pointed out how important free parking is, and said it was crucial to retain it,” Cllr Thorpe added. “What was the point of her review if it’s just going to be ignored?

“These plans do not have the ‘backing of Hatfield’, and frankly I laugh at the thought they have the slightest idea what Hatfield needs, they aren’t listening to business owners, they aren’t listening to local residents.”

But Tory councillor Bernard Sarson said the council was driving forward a shared vision of Hatfield, developed by the 2030+ partnership, which includes the university, town council, Gascoyne Cecil Estates and others.

He added: “We’ve listened to local residents and businesses who have told us what they think and the majority of people we’ve spoken with support the plans, understanding how they will give Hatfield a fresh lease of life and create new places to live, shop, eat and enjoy.”

Councillor Bernard Sarson Councillor Bernard Sarson

Some people also voiced positivity, suggesting it could ease the parking issues and make the town more appealing for big-name retailers.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Millwards resident Paul Mortby. “Too many cars are parking up on paths and grass verges or wherever they feel in town.

“Hopefully it will calm the traffic that builds up in Asda’s car park.”

Hatfield Garden Village resident Jonathan Morris added: “It’s great to see money being invested in the town centre after so many broken promises.

“But this must be part of further investment to completely overhaul the town centre – in particular Market Place – to create new business and retail opportunities, not simply more housing.”

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