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Car parking review shows shoppers staying longer

Guildford's popularity as a shopping destination is increasing - a review of parking in the borough shows people are using the town centre car parks for longer and changing from cash to other payment methods to pay for their parking.

The new parking plan, to be considered by the Executive on 23 January, is set to make some changes, including introducing controls around some of our parks to protect these for the people using them.

Deputy Leader and Lead Councillor for Infrastructure and Governance, Cllr Matt Furniss, says: "Guildford is a great place to live, work and visit, and is one of the best shopping areas outside London. Car parks play an important role in supporting the local economy by encouraging shoppers and visitors, and Guildford's popularity means our car parks are well used.

"As a Council we encourage a 'drive to, not through' principle. We are also encouraging access to Guildford's centre in more sustainable ways and our long stay car parks slightly further away from the town centre and Park and Ride car parks help reduce congestion.

"We're constantly looking at ways to improve the parking experience, facilities, and safety for residents and visitors. Our parking business plan shows that shoppers parking in the central car parks are staying for longer, with a 5% increase between 2015-16 and 2016-17. Recent figures show this trend is continuing, reflecting Guildford's position as a popular shopping destination.

"Our new parking business plan contains recommendations and proposals for improved parking management in the borough, this includes tackling issues in specific locations, such as around our parks, providing tailored solutions."

The recommendations include:

  • Free parking for four hours to be introduced around some of our popular parks and open spaces to tackle the problem of vehicles left for long periods of time in the car parks blocking access for others. Clubs and societies will be issued with passes. The parks include Sutherland Memorial Park, Stoke Park and Chantry Wood.

  • Improvements to parking, including a new right turn out of Millbrook car park. This will improve customers' journeys and reduce traffic on the gyratory. Work is due to begin shortly.

  • To encourage people, particularly workers, to use the long stay car parks or park and ride, a 10p increase in a number of short stay car parks in the town centre - from £1.20 to £1.30 an hour. This will bring them into line with the charges for the rest of the central public car parks in Guildford.

Adds Cllr Furniss: "Parking charges are a way of ensuring that spaces are made available so people can easily visit town centre shops and facilities on a short term basis. We review our car park charges every year and they are comparable with other similar shopping centres - and are in fact lower than places like Kingston and Reading. We invest any surplus over and above operating costs into our services for residents, businesses and visitors.

"High levels of investment have also been made into the land, building and maintenance of our car parks and we have achieved the highest national safety rating, the Safer Parking Award, for all our public car parks in the town centre."

One recent development is a new parking app we helped develop, which is designed to make finding a parking space faster, easier and more efficient. It helps reduce congestion caused by cars unable to find space. You can enter your destination and the app calculates the best route, predicts where parking space will be available, time of arrival, and shows the best route by car and on foot. You can choose information for a range of parking options including park and ride, the closest parking spaces, or the cheapest.

More information on our Parking and Travel web pages.

Published on Tuesday 23 January.