Published: 00:07, 03 March 2019
A former Lord Mayor says council bosses should drastically rethink their multi-storey car park plans by building it in Wincheap instead.
Controversy has long-surrounded the £9.1 million project in Station Road West, which is set to get underway tomorrow.
And now Cllr George Metcalfe says the council has missed a trick by not building it on Wincheap park and ride site, which is itself subject to plans to expand it by 278 spaces.
Both car park plans have met with opposition, with the Station Road West multi-storey sparking outcry from hoards of critics, and the park and ride scheme angering wildlife lovers who say a section of picturesque river bank at Hambrook Marshes will be destroyed.
Cllr Metcalfe - who last year defected from the Conservatives to the Lib Dems - believes his vision is a solution that can please both sets of critics.
“It’s so obvious that the council has missed a trick,” he said. “No one wants the multi-storey car park at Canterbury West, it should be left as it is. The £9 million can be invested on building one at the park and ride.
“A lot of people are up in arms and furious about ruining the marshes by extending the Wincheap car park, so why not put the multi-storey on the current site. It would not be out of place. You could have a very simple two-storey structure and as it is in a dip, the roofline wouldn’t be above the level of the existing commercial buildings in the immediate area.”
The Blean Forest representative says electric buses should operate from the restructured park and ride, with passengers being taken into the city and dropped off at the West and East railway stations.
The council has defended its reasoning behind backing two big car park projects.
Spokesman Rob Davies said: “It’s not a case of either/or with these two projects - the multi-storey at Station Road West and the expansion of the Wincheap park and ride both need to happen.
“They are two important infrastructure schemes to support the district in the years to come.
“At the station, we are providing parking capacity to meet the need for more than 30 years, as well as helping smaller, independent traders in St Dunstan’s.
“The increase in park and ride capacity at Wincheap is a crucial part of the package of measures to improve the road network around this area of the city, including the new A2 coastbound off-slip and Wincheap relief road.
“Without the park and ride project, none of the rest of it can happen - the off-slip comes right through the existing site, while the increase in traffic coming off the A2 means more spaces are required.
“With thousands of new houses due to be built in the city, we need the right transport infrastructure to go with them, and that means doing both of these projects, rather than choosing between them.”