Shrewsbury businesses express deep concern over parking proposals

Shrewsbury BID has today published its response to the Shropshire Council Car Parking Strategy, following its largest ever response from members.

On street parking at Belmont in Shrewsbury. Photo: Google Street View
On street parking at Belmont in Shrewsbury. Photo: Google Street View

Members of the Shrewsbury Business Improvement District (BID), which represents over 500 businesses in the town centre, have expressed their deep concern about the negative economic impact the strategy would have on businesses and the vitality of the town.

Vicki Heath, owner of The Cave commented: “As a small independent business we have seen constant rising costs at The Cave to the point of near closure. We strongly believe that the proposed car parking charges will deter visitors to the town centre – especially on Sundays. We need to encourage people into town and this will only force people to out of town shopping centres.”

Shrewsbury BID have worked with car parking specialists AECOM to provide a qualitative review of the Shropshire Draft Car Parking Strategy to consider the potential effects of the proposals on Shrewsbury Town Centre.

Some key findings from the full consultation response, found at www.shrewsbury.bid/parking, are shown below:

• The combination of a linear pricing structure with no cap on tariffs will lead to users being penalised for staying at the car park for longer periods. It is a key objective of the parking strategy to contribute to economic growth through encouraging longer dwell times for visitors in Shrewsbury, which is supported by the BID. This proposal contradicts this objective.

• Shrewsbury BID is concerned that the implementation of a blanket approach such as linear parking bands reduces the ability to alter parking tariffs to encourage, reward and (in some cases) discourage a range of travel behaviours.

• In comparison to Telford, which is a primary competitor to Shrewsbury and not affected by the Parking Strategy, the linear policy does not perform well. Telford offers £3/£4 daily parking in the Town Centre, compared to a minimum £5 or a maximum £25 in Shrewsbury.

• The proposals will supersede the existing £1 Sunday daily parking charge which was successfully negotiated and promoted by the BID. Having been introduced in June 2015, the £1 Sunday offer is starting to have a positive effect on Sunday trade and footfall. However, Shrewsbury is still way behind other destinations and removing the £1 Sunday offer will negate any progress made – particularly given the lack of a Sunday park and ride service.

• Adopting the standard linear pricing structure on Sundays will lead to a large proportion of Sunday visitors going elsewhere or not travelling at all.

Kevin Lockwood, Chair of the BID Access and Car Parking Group and Centre Manager for Shrewsbury Shopping Centres says:

“The proposals are at odds with the objectives of the strategy and in particular to ‘contribute to economic growth’. The strategy appears to have been designed with the objective of generating additional revenue with little care for the wider economic impact on the town. Given some of the proposed pricing increases, we believe it is highly unlikely that the strategy would lead to increased revenues due to a decrease in usage.”

Shrewsbury BID has met with senior Shropshire Council Officers and Members outlining its concerns about the proposals, and are in early discussions about a possible way forward.

Shrewsbury BID would like to encourage everyone to respond to the consultation before the deadline on 17th October.