Introduction

A parking strategy should not simply reflect current patterns, but should seek to shape the future to meet all the Council's objectives for the wellbeing of Winchester District.

It is essential that parking is not seen as a transport issue alone, or an economic issue alone.  Traffic in the town centre causes congestion, pollution, and traffic blight.

The parking strategy needs to be guided by all the Council's priorities: the economy, the environment and community well-being. The strategy should ensure that parking contributes to the economy, the environment, and well-being.

Economy

The City Council Parking Strategy has good overall aims but contains a fundamental flaw. It assumes parking within the city walls is necessary for a thriving economy. This isn't true.

A reduction of traffic in the city centre and priority for pedestrians and bicycles would be good for the economy. 

Environment

Less traffic in the city centre would improve air quality. Fewer cars driving round in circles would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and particulate pollution. Walking and cycling would improve people’s health, and must have priority over the private car (except for people who are disabled).

So the location of car parking is significant, including its relationship to the one-way circulatory system. The environmental impact should be one of the key criteria used in assessing alternative options for parking. One of the principles of the strategy should be to meet the legal imperatives on air pollution quickly, and to meet the requirement in the Local Plan 2013 to implement the Air Quality Action Plan to reduce vehicle emissions.

Community wellbeing

Active travel (walking and cycling) are national, county and Winchester City Council priorities as a means for improving health. This should be reflected in the parking strategy.

We should welcome the "nudge" to drivers to walk a short distance to the shops - for example, from Chesil multi-storey car park, which is consistently under-used.

Our suggestions

WinACC would like to see the complete relaunch of parking facilities in Winchester and of the way they are advertised to the public.

The parking offer should promote parking outside the centre of Winchester and discourage parking accessed from the central circulatory system. Street parking could be used mostly for disabled badge-holders, and loading/unloading.

These suggestions are consistent with the Town Access Plan  and the current City Council Planning Policy W6 to discourage parking within the city walls and encourage parking further out while maintaining, or even increasing, council income from parking charges.

Naming
  • The naming of car parks should encourage their use by their target group
    • location e.g. "Centre”
    • point of compass, to encourage people to use the car parks on their side of the city.
    • accuracy - e.g. St Peter's is historic, and neither in St Peter's Street nor St Peter's Church; “long-stay” gives the wrong impression that these car parks cannot be used for short stays
    • price - giving car parks names that reflect their price
  • Names and signage should encourage drivers approaching the city to park without entering the city centre and driving round the one-way system. Rename car parks on the edge of town to make it clear that they are for people who come from that direction.
    • City Westgate (now Tower St)
    • City Eastgate (now Chesil multi-storey)
    • City North Walls – (now St Peter’s)
    • City Durngate - (as now)
    • North (now Andover Road cattle market)
Signage and publicity
  • Remove the electronic signs which are inaccurate, incomplete and encourage people to drive in circles and replace them with clear signs to the nearest car parks.
  • On approach roads, show only the nearest car parks. For example the Cattle Market car park, renamed North, would be the only one signed for visitors approaching down Worthy Road and Andover Road.
  • Make car parks accessible from main roads – this is usually the case, but the Cattle market needs to be accessible through Andover Road
  • Park-and-Ride car parks signage, and possibly the name, should include reference to free bus.
  • Sell heavily the virtues of the car parks on the edge of the centre: signage, web details, time from the Buttercross, renaming, safety awards.
  • On signs and on signposts outside each car-park, publicise the time it takes to walk from the car park to where you first hit the pedestrian (shopping) area.
Pricing and charging bands
  • Car park charging is a tool for traffic management.  The decision of how much income, overall, the council plans to raise from parking is a decision for Councillors.  The decisions about what changes are made at what times and at which car parks are an operational question.  Charges can be used to influences where people park.  WinACC’s research suggests the differentials are too small to have this effect.
  • Assuming that the bands and pricing are consistent, there is no need to use both in the car park names.  We suggest using layout and design to show the charging bands. Rather than having names for the different categories of car parks, divide them as Price Band A, B and C, shown consistently: for example, green for outer (cheaper) orange for medium, red for inner, on price displays, comparison tables etc.
  • Pricing should be as consistent as it is possible to make it within the three bands.  Oddities on the web scale of charges need to be sorted out. In particular:
    • show a full-day parking charge of £30 where this is the penalty
    • review the 30 minute slot at St Peter's as a contribution to the St Bede’s School Travel Plan.
    • “Short Stay” car parks should have a maximum stay of 4 hours; all other car parks should operate all charging time bands.
    • Specifically, make sure that all car parks have the “up to one hour” option – the omission of ‘up to 1 Hour’ at Durngate, Cattle Market, Worthy Lane, and Coach Park encourages short stayers to use the cheaper (for this duration) central car parks.
    • Simplify the pricing structure to make it transparent and easy to see the differences in cost per hour between inner and outer car parks.
  • Make parking inside the old city walls relatively much more expensive.
  • Where parking is free, advertise it on the web site and in the street.

WinACC will support any decision to increase charges in inner car parks, or increase the differential between inner and outer, to influence where people park. It is legal to set charges for off-street parking to reflect Council transport prioritise e.g. to invest in car parks outside the city walls to encourage people to use them. 

Other
  • One central car park (the Brooks?) could develop enhanced facilities for people with disabilities and heavy shopping
  • Offer incentives to use Park and Ride 

These suggestions are based on

  • recent reputable research about the relationship in other places between private car density and parking in town centres and economic vitality 
  • WinACC's May 2016 report, based on evidence from WinACC regular counts of cars in Winchester town car parks since September 2010.