Lack of parking in Woking undermining redevelopment of town centre

April 13, 2015
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Lack of parking for businesses and the knock-on effect of taking spaces from shoppers could undermine the redevelopment of Woking town centre, senior business figures have warned.

Woking Borough Council has stopped issuing season tickets for town centre car parks to ensure shoppers have somewhere to park, with companies on a waiting list for permits.

But with restaurants, shops and other retailers moving into town by the week, more workers need spaces.

The business community is starting to suffer, according to Woking Chamber of Commerce vice-president Dave Peet, senior manager at accountants Menzies LLP, in Goldsworth Road.

“So many offices have limited parking spaces now,” he said. “The cost of parking is having an affect on businesses, with recruitment. They’re looking to rent spaces off other companies. Everybody with a space is renting it out.

“It’s how the smaller businesses cope. They have employees who can’t afford season ticket prices.”

Mr Peet believes lower-paid workers are starting to be put off working in a place where they face paying parking charges which eat into wages. Town centre car parks charge £1.30 per hour.

“What answers are there?” Mr Peet asked. “Within the chamber we’ve had members asking. There’s no easy answer.”

Simon Griffith, who owns Simon James Menswear and The Suit Room and was previously chairman of Woking’s Independent Retailers Group, is equally concerned.

“It’s to the detriment of employees and the knock-on effect is it clogs up spaces at peak periods when we would have customers,” he said. “At Christmas it was all pretty full.”

McLaren has almost 300 permits for the Victoria Way car park, and Mr Griffith is not happy.

“Parking spaces in shopping centre car parks should be for customers,” he said.

Restaurant Las Iguanas was the latest to open in Commercial Way last week, following Bill’s and Carluccio’s.

Borough council chief executive Ray Morgan said last month the addition of 1,000 new dining covers was part of his vision for ‘city-style living’ in Woking, and he expects new retailers to follow restaurants.

Proposals for Victoria Square, including a new Marks Spencer, other stores and a public plaza, include parking butit will be needed by people staying in the hotel and the 392 flats being built.

Mr Griffith and Mr Peet do not believe a car-free town is realistic as they do not think enough people walk to work or arrive via public transport.

“As developments progress I can’t see it’s going to be any better,” Mr Griffith said. “Retailers coming in will create more pressure. It’s all very well having lovely shops and restaurants but if people are in cars driving around all morning trying to park, it gives a negative impression.

“The council will have to come up with a solution.”

McLaren uses shuttle buses to bring workers into town from its north Woking headquarters and similar park-and-ride services have been mooted.

Mr Morgan has ruled out a public park-and-ride and the council stated this year it was ‘confident the town centre has the necessary capacity’.

Regarding business parking, the council’s neighbourhood services manager Geoff McManus said: “The council has stopped issuing season tickets for town centre car parks to maintain a good supply of parking for shoppers and visitors who want to enjoy attractions in the town.

“There is currently a waiting list for season tickets and as these spaces become available, they will be offered to companies that have previously registered their interest.

“This situation reflects the buoyant economy in Woking and the council continues to receive enquiries from companies interested in doing business in the borough.

“Woking benefits from a variety of readily available transport options including a well-connected rail service, bus services, a comprehensive cycle network and facilities, and an expanding car-share service operating from town centre car parks.

“The potential for further car parking in Woking town centre is being considered. In the meantime, the council will continue to utilise its available car parking stock effectively and pragmat-ically.”

Article source: http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/lack-parking-woking-undermining-redevelopment-9030813


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