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Car parking in Hungerford – nearly 100 spaces to be lost

In 2013, Oakes Bros agreed to offer its long-derelict site near Hungerford Station to West Berkshire Council for use as a temporary car park. Oakes Bros’ long-term intention was always that at some point the site would be developed. A three-year lease was agreed and nearly 100 parking spaces were created as a result. The lease lapsed in 2016 but the usage continued on the same basis. Many other landowners have been reluctant to lease land in such a way due to the problems of then recovering it, so Oakes Bros is to be commended for this.

Attempts to develop the site took longer than many would have liked, partly because of the restriction that the land be used only for commercial (not residential) purposes. However, recent changes in government policy to encourage homebuilding have recently contributed to plans being submitted which were approved in July 2018. This will result in 30 homes being built on this site and work is expected to begin fairly soon.

This will result in the loss of the temporary car-parking spaces. As these were always temporary – and as, since the lease lapsed, they technically haven’t existed at all – Hungerford is in some ways losing what it never truly had. This will, however, obviously have an impact on the town, the more so given the 100 imminent new homes in Salisbury Road, the improvements in the rail service due to the new bi-mode trains and natural growth in population and demand.

Perhaps because five different organisations – West Berkshire and Hungerford Councils, GWR, Network Rail and the landowners – were involved it proved difficult to make progress on identifying how Hungerford’s long-term parking problems could be solved. One solution might have been for West Berkshire or one of the rail companies to have acquired the land but for whatever reason this was not taken up and the opportunity has now passed. West Berkshire, and not Hungerford, Council is responsible for car-parking arrangements in and around the town: so it is West Berkshire that will ultimately need to decide what happens next.

Hungerford Town Council is aware and has been for some time that this is a serious matter. Many residents and traders have also expressed concerns. The most obvious risk is that station users park on the High Street or elsewhere, so reducing the spaces for shoppers and residents. “If 100 parking spaces are to be lost then another 100 need to be found if the town is to grow and prosper,” says Simon Evans who runs The Naked Grape wine merchants. Some changes to the High-Street regulations may also be needed. “Many towns have free parking for an hour or so,” says Christian Alba of the butcher’s shop, “and a maximum stay to deter commuters. It’s all a question of whether the intention is to encourage local businesses or not.”

In the light of these and other concerns, on 21 June the Chairman of Hungerford Town Council’s Highways and Transport Committee, Rob Brookman, requested a meeting with West Berkshire Council to discuss potential sites for a new car park. This is finally going to take place in late July. Hungerford Town Council is looking at a number of possible solutions including investigating the feasibility of introducing a park and ride scheme.

Hungerford is currently creating a neighbourhood development plan – click here for more details – and it’s to be expected that the issue of parking spaces and their regulations will form a part of this.

This post will be updated as necessary. If you have anything you’d like to add please use the comments box below or emailbrian@pennypost.org.uk

This was written by Penny Post. Every effort has been made to provide a balanced summary but the post may contain opinions which do not reflect the views of the organisations mentioned in the text.

6 Comments
  1. Nick Richards

    It surprises me a little that, given that this was always going to be a temporary solution, we’ve waited till now to go into panic mode. I should have thought that 5 years would have been long enough to come up with something. When I was a member of the Hungerford Chamber back in 2010 the lack of parking was constantly on the agenda! Too many cooks maybe?

    • A fair point. As I mentioned, and as you suggest, there were five organisations involved and I don’t think this helped the decision-making. HTC was not oblivious to the problem but it seemed to have been difficult to get everyone’s attention when there were many more immediate issues to deal with. What Hungerford does about its parking arrangements will, I imagine, also be of interest to people in Kintbury and Bedwyn (and vice-versa). I understand that, of the various proposals made by HTC to WBC, one has been identified as the most viable. I don’t know which one this is but as soon as an announcement is made we’ll be updating the post.
      Brian Quinn

  2. Robyn Richardson

    Why not have a 3 storey Car Park next to the Library on the existing Car Park Site, surely with the amount of Tourism the Town attracts it’s worth investing in a decent permanent Parking Site.

    • Thanks for your comment.
      This is, I think, one of the options being looked at by HTC. This was examined some years ago and was considered too expensive but now there are better and cheaper techniques available, I understand. It’s certainly an obvious candidate as it’s of a decent size and near the station.
      Brian Quinn

  3. Trevor Wainwright

    Sorry but if park and ride does not work in Swindon it will have no chance in Hungerford for cost reasons alone!

    • Thanks for your comment. I don’t know about Swindon’s P&R, nor about what HTC might be considering. However, I think it’s worth looking at particularly with 100 new homes to the south of the town being a bit further than a comfortable walk to the station.
      Brian Quinn

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