Five-Minute Feature: Will Cheltenham have enough parking spaces when the North Place development begins?
WITH two of Cheltenham's largest car parks, North Place and Portland Street, set to be replaced by a large supermarket and more than 140 homes, could drivers' parking space headache be about to turn into a migraine? Political reporter Jack Maidment examines the issue.
IF you were organising a dinner party, you would make sure you had enough seats for your guests.
By the same token, if you are a popular shopping destination, you have to be able to provide parking for all of your visitors.
When work begins on redeveloping the North Place and Portland Street car parks, the town loses around 500 parking spaces.
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Concerns have been raised about what sort of impact this could have on side streets across Cheltenham. But is that fear rational? An analysis of existing parking provision in the town, specifically for shoppers, would suggest the answer is no.
The idea that streets will feel the strain is based on the assumption that the other car parks in Cheltenham are full every day.
But according to Jeremy Williamson, managing director of Cheltenham Development Task Force which is pushing to regenerate the town, this is not the case.
He said there were plenty of spaces for cars to park elsewhere.
"If you look at North Place in isolation you might get nervous, but looking across the whole town, there are spaces available," he said.
Mr Williamson believes Grosvenor Terrace multi-storey car park will play a major part in picking up the slack.
He added that currently, the car park is usually only a third full.
Martin Quantock, town centre manager, believes better signposts to show motorists where there are spaces will be crucial in future.
"There has been a lot of work done auditing the other car parks in the town and it was found that there is enough spare capacity to soak up the net loss that will be caused by the North Place development," he said. "The only concern is that those spaces will only be used if drivers are able to find them easily."
But it is not only about providing car parking spaces. It is also about encouraging people to ditch their cars and start cycling and walking, town centre bosses insisted.