The ‘bonkers’ story of the empty car park and clogged up roads

A CAR park costing hundreds of thousands of pounds has been built to alleviate congestion in a Welwyn Hatfield country road.

But the �300,000 facility has stood empty for more than two months – due to bureaucratic red tape.

Meanwhile, Hawkshead Lane in Brookmans Park remains snarled up with vehicles, predominantly those belonging to students at the Royal Vet College.

This week, MP Grant Shapps branded the situation “bonkers”, and has called on the parties involved to get together to sort it out.

Mr Shapps, who has been tackling the issue for three years, told the WHT the car park remained shut due to technicalities relating to its planning permission.

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For the car park to be legally allowed to open, parking restrictions need to be in place in Hawkshead Lane first – but Mr Shapps is calling for this condition to be temporarily relaxed in order to resolve the congestion.

He said: “Getting agreement for this car park to be built has been a long and torturous process.

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“To see the car park now standing empty while parking mayhem continues along the lane does seem rather crazy.

“That’s why I’m calling on the authorities to clear the remaining bureaucratic hurdles and throw the car park gates open.”

A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire County Council, which is responsible for ensuring the parking regulations are in place, said it would “not object” to the car park opening early.

She said the college had last summer submitted an application for a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), which take up to 18 months to implement.

The spokeswoman said: “We are still going through the statutory process for implementing their TRO and are about to advertise the public notices. If there are no objections to the notices, their TRO should be in place in May.

“In the meantime we have made it clear to the college we would not object to them opening their car park now, although we recommend they do not charge for parking until their TRO is in place.”

However, it might not be as easy as that.

A spokeswoman for Welwyn Hatfield Council, which enforces planning permission, said: “Conditions placed on a planning permission cannot be revoked.

“However, we are in discussion with the Royal Veterinary College to consider a ‘common sense’ approach to get the car park open.”

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