Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Council launches parking strategy consultation, charges to be reviewed

Lancaster City Council is inviting comments on its draft parking strategy for the district, which includes a potential review of parking charges and changes to regulations that mean the County Council is now in charge of maintaining (and creating) resident parking schemes.

The draft strategy was approved by the council’s Cabinet in October and is now open to public consultation.

Its aim is to provide a comprehensive approach to parking management which will improve the service provided directly to customers whilst also meeting the wider public needs of sustainability and amenity.

Councillor Tim Hamilton-Cox, cabinet member with responsibility for parking, said: “The Lancaster district is approaching a period of great challenges, changes and potential development.

“In the next few years we will not only see the completion of the Heysham to M6 link road but also the potential development of Lancaster Castle as a major tourist attraction, new plans to redevelop the Canal Corridor North site, and the opportunity to upgrade Morecambe town centre through the Morecambe Area Action Plan.

“All of these developments will have an effect on parking provision so the time is now right to update the strategy.”

While the new Park and Ride that is to be built as part of the M6 Link scheme will add some 550 car parking spaces for city visitors, Lancaster will also lose some car parking in coming years if new developments go ahead.

One aspect often discussed is the cost of parking in the area, with many arguing it is too expensive. The report acknowledges that parking charges are a useful mechanism for assisting with the control of demand for parking space. "However, a careful balance needs to be found," it notes. "If charges are too high then spaces will be underused but, conversely, if they are too low demand for spaces will increase to a level which makes them more difficult to find and increases congestion.

"Charges should also reflect the importance of shoppers’ and local business needs and
their high priority within the parking service."

However, it's also noted that it has been suggested that the tariff structure should be reviewed and that the same structure should not apply across the district.

"A review of the current tariff structure may assist in the promotion of Morecambe as a visitor
centre," the report acknowledges, "and help to achieve a greater visitor dwell time."

The report also notes rising costs for the administration of some parking schemes and highlights changes which mean, for example, that the City Council has less influence over the implementation of additional residents’ parking schemes. The County Council is also reviewing the priority given to traffic regulation orders for resident’s parking schemes and the future approach on the identification, assessment, funding and implementation of additional schemes.

The draft parking strategy is available to view at www.lancaster.gov.uk/draft-parking-strategy. The deadline for comments is December 31 2013.

• If you wish to submit any comments about the strategy please send them to parking@lancaster.gov.uk by 31st December 2013. Alternatively contact David Hopwood, Parking and Administration Manager on 01524 582817.

Depending on the type of comments that are received, changes may be made to the draft strategy or the comments will be taken into account when the action plan is implemented. The council is aiming to publish the final version of the strategy in February 2014.

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