Plans are now well advanced on a scheme which will transform parking arrangements in Uckfield.
Two schemes are being co-ordinated which aim to ensure visitors, commuters, shoppers, business owners and employees all have adequate access to car parks for the appropriate length of time.
This means people needing to park all day for their businesses can do so without taking up spaces needed for shoppers.
Parking came top of the agenda when East Sussex County Council looked at ways to revitalise the town centre.
It was hoped a new car park on the former Uckfield Station site could come on stream. Thanks to successful negotiations with the property board responsible for the car park, that has come about. Now implementation dates for that car park and a revised programme on Luxford Field car park are being brought together so the transition can be as smooth as possible.
Planning permission was given for the new pay and display car park on the station site on July 3. It will provide 174 new spaces with room for bikes. Operators say the track bed of the former Uckfield-Lewes rail link will not be affected.
Although the scheme has been broadly welcomed, some objectors say parking in Uckfield has always been free and they do not want to pay. Highways chiefs said 40 free High Street parking spaces and a further 40 close to junctions near the station are set to go.
Chamber of Commerce secretary Ian Blackaller told the Express: “Unless they do something in Bell Lane people will not pay to park near the station.”
But new Chamber president Fiona Monson, from Armida, pointed out people from Crowborough had been driving to Uckfield to take advantage of free Luxford Field parking and commute to London. She said: “I’ve often driven around and been unable to find a spot.”
Three weeks’ work to improve Luxford car park starts on August 4 and involves removing current signs, resurfacing, re-lining, clearing drainage and gullies, putting up new sign posts and upgrading lighting. But Wealden says new parking regulations - cutting back parking periods from 23 to nine hours - will not be implemented until autumn to co-incide with the opening of the Network Rail car park. Mayor Ian Smith added: “This means people who work in the High Street can still park nearby but Luxford won’t be clogged up with long-term commuters.”