Plans to allow 30 minutes waiting time in 23 parking spaces in the High Street has been approved by the Uckfield Town Centre Regeneration Joint Committee.
But the whole concept of reducing the existing number of High Street spaces from 43 by half still infuriates traders and ‘makes a mockery of democracy’ says one objector.
Joint Committee chairman Cllr Ian Smith said that the half-hour ‘window’ will allow plenty of time for the pop-in shopper and vehicles needing to load and unload, while making sure that all those who need to make use of the High Street parking can do so.
At a meeting last Monday the Committee discussed suggestions made by Uckfield Town Council and the Chamber of Commerce including a further increase in the number of High Street car parking spaces to 30 plus loading bays. The Committee agreed the suggestion raised concerns it would jeopardise a key aim of the project to improve the flow of traffic around the town, and thereby place developers’ funding at risk.
But Cllr Smith explained: “Responding to concerns of local businesses there has been a three-fold increase in the number of High Street car parking places. To allow a further increase without factoring in the future increase in traffic expected from the 1000 homes being built could spell gridlock for Uckfield town centre. These new homes mean more shoppers. We don’t want them deciding to drive elsewhere because of congestion and because we haven’t put the investment in to make the town an attractive retail location.”
Meanwhile Charles Mears-Lamb of Noble Wines hit back at the scheme. He said: “The petition signed by more than 500 people to keep existing parking has been ignored, as are the views of 83 per cent of those who voted in the referendum, members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Town Council. Businesses are replaced by homes at the top of the town where on-street parking has gone. Everyone knows taking away parking takes away trade on any high street.”
The committee says revised improvement plans also include wider footways, new high quality paving, benches, waste bins, bike stands, street lights and tree pits to help alleviate flooding. There will also be new ‘smart’ traffic lights to monitor and control traffic, particularly at High Street and Bell Lane junction.
Although the council says the 30 minute waiting limit was the ‘preferred option of 332 people who took part in County’s consultation,’ Charles Mears-Lamb said: “It’s a bit like saying do you want your right arm or your left arm cut off. You don’t want any arm cut off actually, but you are given no real choice.”
A final decision on the improvement programme will be made by County’s lead transport member next month.
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