Will town trade be hurt by less parking?

Cllr Peter Allen in Towcester Market Square.'130214M-C776
Cllr Peter Allen in Towcester Market Square.'130214M-C776
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There was a mixed reaction from Towcester traders this week following news they could lose half of the Market Square parking spaces.

Last week Towcester Town Council’s Peter Allen said he thought cutting the number of parking spaces in Market Square would be bad for business and bad for the town.

But this week two Market Square traders have said they support plans to spend £100,000 to redesign the parking area in order to reduce congestion and pollution.

Current proposals will see the number of spaces reduced from 28 to 14, and the waiting time on the remaining spaces cut from two hours to 30mins.

Nicks Hastings, landlord of the Plough Inn which overlooks the parking area wants to see a market back in the town centre and added: “It is the most sensible idea I’ve ever heard, I’ve see some atrocious parking manoeuvres.”

Tony McMurray, who owns Towcester Tearooms, is not worried about fewer parking spaces for customers.

He said: “It seems a lot of money to be spent but any change that can be made to help the public park more easily is a welcome change. As long as the time limits are enforced and other traders also adhere to them.”

A straw poll of four other traders said they were firmly against the proposals.

South Northants Council made the announcement after a successful bid to the Highways Agency and Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for the air quality improvement money.

Councillor Dermot Bambridge, cabinet member for environmental services, said their first priority is public health and urgent measures were needed to improve the air quality in that part of Towcester. Mr Bambridge said the exact details were yet to be officially presented to Towcester Town Council and agreed, but believes the changes will address problems with the flow of traffic and added: “We accept that the proposed scheme will result in a reduction in the number of parking spaces on this site, but the current configuration is too cramped and not an effective long-term solution.

“We are fully aware of the need to improve the overall availability of and signage to parking in the town, and we are currently looking to secure significantly more than 200 parking spaces in the town as part of the Moat Lane Regeneration scheme.”

Turn to page 19 for this week’s Talking Point on the proposals.