Published: 00:01, 28 March 2014
The cost of a park and ride in Whitstable has been set at £3 million as city council, as bosses begin investigating whether the scheme can be justified.
The whopping amount was revealed in the draft Canterbury District Transport Strategy, which has just been published.
Building a park and ride in the town is listed as one of the main actions for car parking strategy, after figures show 83% of town centre car parks are full at weekends with some closer to 100%.
But before residents can make use of a park and ride council bosses say they need to assess demand, come up with a business model and undertake a site selection process.
Some councillors have promoted the idea of a park and ride close to the Long Reach roundabout at the top of Borstal Hill as a potential option.
The document also suggests taking a closer look at installing a one-way system after growing support but admits an out-of-town car park is the only “realistic” long-term measure to reduce congestion.
It reads: “The problems caused by the lack of convenient parking result in traffic congestion both through the town centre and on residential side roads, and the issue is now seen by businesses as a constraint to economic growth.
“However, there are no feasible options to increase car parking capacity in the town and additional off street parking would be likely to increase congestion.
“The only realistic long-term option will be to provide a suitable edge-of-town park and ride facility to meet the needs of visitors, particularly those from the London direction.
“A trial of a park and ride for Whitstable took place in the summer of 2009 and found that while the trial was successful in so far as it met a parking need during the peak weekends, there was no business case at that time for providing park and ride on every weekend through the summer months.
“Since 2010, a park and ride service has operated from the Estuary View business park only during the weekend of the Oyster Festival and this has proved very popular.
“The only realistic long-term option will be to provide a suitable edge-of-town park and ride facility to meet the needs of visitors, particularly those from the London direction" - park and ride report
“The success has only been limited by the capacity of the site which provides a maximum of 190 parking spaces.
“Any park and ride for a town the size of Whitstable is very unlikely to be self-funding, given that the cost of the service needs to be competitive with the parking charges in the town centre.
“However, if a suitable location can be found that can be served by existing scheduled buses then the operating costs will be significantly reduced.
“As such, it is intended that a study will be carried out in due course to assess all possible site options and to consider how a facility could funded and operated.”
The draft strategy is set to be discussed by members of the council’s overview meeting next Wednesday.
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