As the new City Council prepares to review its car parking strategy, WinACC's Transport Action Group publishes a substantial report on car parks in and near Winchester town.

The new report provides the evidence that's needed for the Council to make decisions on the basis of facts, not assumptions.

The main findings

  1. There are always unused car parking places in Winchester. Even at Christmas there is unused capacity at the park-and-rides. Overall there are more car parking spaces than needed. Peak demand could be met in other ways.
  2. Winchester town centre roads cannot cope with the number of cars using them. It is the roads, not the number of central car parking places, which limit car access to Winchester town centre.
  3. Car parks on the edge of Winchester town centre and park-and-ride car parks are less well-used than those in the centre. Park-and-ride is under-performing; and there is scope to shift cars from the centre to car parks on routes into the city including the park-and-ride sites.
  4. Pricing has not so far deterred parking in the centre, and signage and naming have not encouraged cars to park where there is capacity.
  5. Many cars that park in Winchester town come from the northern fringe of the Solent conurbation, not a rural hinterland accessibly only by car.
  6. Private non-residential parking in the centre contributes significantly to Winchester town’s traffic problems.

Recommendations

Winchester Action on Climate Change Transport Action Group recommends that Winchester City Council:

  1. Manage car parking more strategically to shift parking to car parks on the edge of the city, including park-and-ride, to reduce congestion and air pollution. 
  2. Demonstrate that new car parking places within the city centre are not required.
  3. Base future proposals for changes in car park provision on analysis of traffic flows, to prevent overloading the central circulatory system and to reduce air pollution.
  4. Use pricing to manage demand, charging more for parking in the centre than for parking outside the centre.
  5. Improve car park naming and signage to promote changes in parking behaviour:
  • Abolition of the misleading distinction between ‘long-stay’ and ‘short-stay.’
  • Signage that encourages the use of edge-of-centre car parks.
  • Signage and naming that emphasising the differences between central, edge of centre and park-and-ride car parks.

In addition, we recommend that the City and County Councils work together to:

  1. Create better pedestrian and cycling infrastructure to reduce the need for car access.
  2. Develop public transport to provide popular viable alternatives to car use.

The report was shared with the City Council in draft in April, and will be launched on 16 May 2016.

Parking and air pollution

We hope that the Council review will also take into account the high levels of air pollution in the town that exceed legal standards, as set out in Council's  report from Bureau Veritas (February 2016)In the same month, the Royal College of Physicians published a report setting out the impact air pollution is having on our nation’s health. According to the College, around 40,000 deaths each year in the UK are caused by outdoor air pollution which is linked to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia. This is roughly 40 deaths in and around Winchester. 

Parking and trade

There is also a lot of evidence that shops do better in towns that reduce traffic blight from cars. Helping people to do without their cars seems to be good for the local economy.

WinACC analysis of BID statistics shows that footfall didn't go down when Friarsgate car park was closed in 2015 - find out more.

WinACC Transport Action Group found a very high correlation (99%) between town centres with low car dependency and high levels of town centre vitality when we compared two surveys done independently of each other in 2015:- retail analysts Harper Dennis Hobbs assessment of the economic vitality of 500 retail centres, and the Campaign for Better Transport assessment of the car dependence of a number of town centres.

This suggests very strongly that reduction in car access to Winchester City Centre will increase the vitality and economic contribution of the city centre. 

The evidence in the study

WinACC has made regular counts of cars parked in Winchester town car parks, including the park-and-ride sites, for several years.

In 2011, we also  carried out a survey of private car parking in the town such as parking for shops and offices (not including residential or on-street parking). We found that there is more private non-residential parking in Winchester city centre than public car parking space, which contributes significantly to Winchester’s traffic.

If you have any comments, please email transport@winacc.org.uk.