The development of a multi-storey car park in Cirencester has been postponed for 12 months to allow Cotswold District Council to assess the impact of coronavirus on the Gloucestershire town. The council said it will use the delay to understand the post-COVID-19 demand for parking in the town and explore sustainable transport options for Cirencester and the wider district.
The council’s cabinet voted to postpone development of the car park at the Waterloo in Cirencester for 12 months.
Leader of the council, Cllr Joe Harris, said: “The pandemic and resulting lockdown have commanded a significant amount of the council’s time and resources in recent months, and as we move into the recovery phase it is important that we take time to review and challenge all plans and decisions we’ve previously made and the potential opportunities that the post-coronavirus world brings. This is especially the case with respect to parking in Cirencester.
“We have therefore taken the considered decision to postpone our development of the Waterloo car park for the next 12 months. So much of our normal way of life has changed since lockdown began in March – car use is down, home-working has increased exponentially and people are making far fewer journeys than before.
“We want to make the most of this opportunity to review the challenges we face around parking and travel within our district, and how we get more people visiting and shopping in our towns, all with our firm commitment to protecting our climate for future generations in mind.”
The Waterloo car park has been the subject of extensive consultation on account of its location in the historic town. The council ran an architectural design competition that resulted in architectural practice Potter Church & Holmes being selected to create the structure’s façade on the theme ‘Aluminium and Stone’. The Waterloo park is being engineered by Stripe Consulting with Willmott Dixon acting as the main contractor.
Cllr Harris said the council was ensuring there is sufficient parking capacity to support business recovery in the town. “I am obviously acutely aware of the need to support business recovery in the town, the recently completed Sheep Street car park has added additional town centre parking and the rugby club development will provide new spaces for season ticket parking. That will free up spaces in the town centre for short-term parking by shoppers.”
The decision to delay the car park was welcomed by Cllr Rachel Coxcoon, cabinet member for climate change. “I’m incredibly pleased that we’ve made the decision to rethink parking provision in Cirencester,” she said. “It is really important that we look to provide more sustainable and active forms of travel, particularly with the potential impacts COVID-19 will have on the way we travel.
“We urgently want to look at a number of initiatives from safe cycling and walking infrastructure to e-bike provisions and changing facilities for active forms of travel. There is also potential to significantly increase EV charging infrastructure and to modernise public transport provision through hyper-local on-demand bus loops.
“Our aim is to do the right research to gather evidence on what the district needs so that we are in a much better position to bid for government funding and deliver a wide range of sustainable transport solutions for the Cotswolds.”
The decision to delay was criticised by Cllr Richard Morgan, leader of the opposition Conservative group, who said it left businesses and residents in limbo. “The news the Lib Dems have decided to conduct yet another review of transport will mean more money being spent on London-based consultants and another wasted year for business owners. They have wasted £500,000 of taxpayers’ money on this multi-storey car park so far.”
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