‘Divisive’ citywide parking controls on the way

Proposals for citywide parking controls in Chichester are moving forward – despite most consultation respondents being opposed to the plan.

Friday, 13th September 2019, 2:16 pm
Updated Friday, 13th September 2019, 3:16 pm
Proposed Chichester Parking Management Plan. WSCC consultation 01-03-19. Blue areas mark new controlled parking zones. Orange areas are existing CPZs. SUS-190403-112006001

The ‘parking management plan’ (PMP), which went to consultation earlier this year, is being developed by West Sussex County Council in response to growing pressures on parking space in the city.

It advocates paid-for parking and waiting restrictions on residential streets to zones throughout Chichester, the 21 new zones pictured here in blue.

Following a meeting of the South Chichester County Local Commitee in June, the county council has given the go ahead for the plans to be developed into draft traffic regulation orders (TROs).

Chichester Proposed Parking Management Plan (PMP): Support and opposition for a citywide parking management plan (in general) of 1341 respondents to a public consultation. Image taken from the consultation report to WSCC

A number of amendments are to be made to the parking plan in response to specific concerns.

It is expected the draft TROs will be advertised for public comment this year. Responses will go to the appropriate cabinet member, who will decide whether or not to implement the proposals.

A report to the county council director of highways, transport and planning noted that of 1,341 responses to the public consultation, 57 per cent were opposed to the scheme.

It added: “It is accepted that there is a significant level of objection to the proposals as they stand, particularly from people who live outside of the proposed PMP area and who might come into Chichester to work etc.

“Unfortunately, in many cases, it will not be possible to resolve these objections or meet everyone’s expectations but despite this, officers are of the view that the proposal for a city wide PMP is still feasible, especially as a series of mitigation measures could be put forward in order to make the proposal more workable and acceptable.

“On that basis, officers would like to consult again with the public and stakeholders and consider that proposals for a city wide PMP should be progressed to a statutory advertisement.”

Conditions on that decision include that, should the plans be approved, consideration be given to implementing the plans in phases, as requested by Chichester District Council. Changes to parking behaviours could then be monitored and plans adapted to particular issues or areas left unrestricted.

The take up of residents’ permits would also be ‘dynamically assessed’ to allow non-resident permits to be offered ‘as quickly as possible’, and those non-resident permits could be payable in instalments.

A ‘full review’ would also be undertaken of the existing Controlled Parking Zones.

Parking plans – who supported and who opposed proposals for citywide controls

The greatest support for additional parking controls in Chichester came from those living in the centre, a consultation found.

Analysis of responses to a consultation in March this year found ‘considerable variations in opinion’ depending on postcode to the question of whether citywide parking controls were needed.

In the map coloured red and green, green depicts zones where total support for citywide parking controls is at least 50 per cent, orange where support is 40-49 per cent and zones with the lowest level of support are shown in red.

It was noted that ‘respondents from outside the zones are far more likely to oppose the need for a PMP [parking management plan] (75 per cent strongly oppose/oppose)’.

Greater support within city

Of those who responded to the consultation, 58 per cent came from within the proposed PMP area.

Support for new parking controls was generally found to be higher from those who lived within the city.

Inside the PMP area, 47 per cent of respondents were in support, compared to 43 per cent opposed. Outside of the PMP area, 21 per cent were in support and 75 per cent were opposed.

Areas of support were Donnington, Swanfield, Parklands East and Westhampnett, while areas of objection included Summersdale,

Parklands West and the industrial estates.

‘Using a hammer to crack a nut’

At the time the parking plans were suggested, there were concerns from shopkeepers and employees about the impact on people commuting into the city, whose earnings would be diminished by having to pay for parking.

A report into consultation responses found there was a ‘greater level of support for the principle of introducing a Parking Management Plan for Chichester than for the actual proposals currently ‘on the table’. Overall, 36 per cent of respondents support the need for the PMP, while 27 per cent are in favour of progressing the plans as currently proposed’.

Comments from respondents included concerns over parking capacity, access, such as to schools and healthcare facilities, the costs of permits and off-street parking and the impact on the city’s economy.

There were also calls for alternative measures such as park and ride facilities, new car parks and improved cycling and walking infrastructure, as well as suggestions that residents’ permits should be provided free of charge.

Summersdale Residents’ Association appealed for a collaborative approach to parking with the hospital and Chichester University.

It wrote that the proposals were ‘drastic’ and a ‘hammer to crack a nut’.

It added: “Chichester is a small, close community. It is a great place to live. This zone scheme will merely divide the community as it has in all cities split by the cost of parking.

“Let us avoid making this community live perpetually in fear of the parking fine and the dreaded warden.”

The Chichester Society supported better utilisation of existing parking space but warned of the impact on lower paid staff and urged the county council to reserve sites for future park and ride facilities in view of ‘unprecendented’ levels of new housing.

Still time to have a say

The implementation of a citywide parking management plan is not yet final.

The public will have another chance to comment on updated plans when traffic regulation orders are advertised, a stage officers hope to achieve before the end of this year.

It also follows two stages of large-scale public consultation, the first of which was in 2017.

Should the plans go ahead, implementation is expected to begin in June 2020.

Council reports have suggested a charges freeze on on-street parking charges should the PMP go ahead to avoid permit holders facing a scheduled price increase at the same time as the new controlled zones.

Any income and expenditure for on-street parking is required by law to be contained within the county council’s on-street parking account for highways and parking area maintenance or similar projects.