Article by Guy Bell: A new car park in Billericay could free up spaces in the town centre and deliver a welcome boost to both shoppers and traders.
The possibility of building a new car park on the grass verge at the roundabout linking the A176 and Southend Road is being explored.
It could see 120 season ticket holders, who park in the town's busiest car park behind Iceland, relocated to this new site.
This could then free up spaces in the former Woolworth's car park for shoppers visiting High Street stores.
But Councillor Phil Turner, leader of Basildon Borough Council, says Essex County Council, which owns the parcel of land in question, is reluctant to release it.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Councillor Phil Turner"]They say they might want to widen the road, but that is never going to happen. People love coming to Billericay and we want to make sure traders get the footfall they need. It is all about investment in the High Street. We want to keep the town vibrant because it is a place with charm that a lot of people visit. The spaces in the Iceland car park are small but we want to get as many cars in there as possible. Some would argue they aren't big enough or there aren't enough and it is difficult trying to find the right balance.[/quote]
One thing Cllr Turner says will remain is the free parking at weekends and the cost, which stands at 50p for an hour and £2.50 for four hours in the week.
Warren Woodward, who has owned Woodward Carpets in the High Street for 27 years, said he would welcome a longer walk if it would mean freeing up spaces to bring more people to the shops.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Warren Woodward"]Having a new car park would obviously be good. There is not enough parking in the High Street and this year is the first time I have seen shops up for let in a long time – and they are still empty. The new site is a little further to walk but you would put up with it.[/quote]
Estate agent Mark Reeve said it is no surprise people would rather pay a visit to Lakeside or Basildon, where it is easier to park.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by"]Parking is a huge problem. There is such a limit on spaces that people end up spending 20 minutes looking for one. I am sure there are plenty of people who think to themselves they won't drive around looking for a space, they'll go off to retail parks.[/quote]
Read the original article, Guy Bell, Ongar Gazette