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  • Writer's picturePhil North

Borough Council Slashes Parking Charges to help Town Centre Rejuvenation Plans

Test Valley is set to slash its two-hour parking charge by 40 per cent and introduce free parking at Shepherds Spring Lane in Andover to help increase visitors to its town centres.

From April 2020, shoppers will be able to park for two hours for just £1, the same price currently charged for one hour, doubling the amount of time they can stay. And Shepherds Spring Lane car park in Andover, which holds 155 spaces, will soon offer two-hours free parking, complementing the hundreds of spaces currently free at Romsey Rapids. The changes will also see the removal of the 30-minute, 45-minute and hour tariffs - with prices starting at £1 for 2-hours.

Since I became Leader of Test Valley in 2017, I have made the rejuvenation of our town centres our number one priority and I recognise that even after all our hard work developing masterplans in both Andover & Romsey our credibility would be put at risk if we continued with the same old parking strategy. Talk to any shopkeeper and their big ask is a parking policy that keeps the High Street as competitive as possible in these times of changing shopping habits.

Apart from some minor tweaks here and there, the strategy in the past has been to freeze parking charges for three years out of four and then put the prices up by the cumulative sum of inflation in the fourth year – which this year would have been 7.2%.

So instead of following a strategy of inflationary rises, I’m thrilled that we’re now able to offer 2-hours free parking in Andover at Shepherds Spring together with two-hours for the current price of one at all our other car parks.

The majority of people that park in Test Valley car parks stay for between 1 and 2-hours, so these changes will help the greatest number of users. Free parking after 4pm and all day on Sundays and bank holidays will still apply – and with contactless payment now available we’re making sure it is as easy as possible to park up and shop locally.

While the very short-stay charges will be removed, people will now be able to secure two hours of parking for just £1 instead of £1.75, which we hope will encourage those parking in the Borough not to rush and instead enjoy a little more time in the town centre. Although, if you need to pop into Andover for a short while then you can always use one of our free dash and go spaces or park for free for an hour in Bracher Close or for half an hour in Church Close.

To put these proposals in context, revenue from our car parks account for around 20% of the council’s budget, which pays for the services we all enjoy. Our continued investments in commercial property mean that we can afford this, but it is obviously a difficult balancing act. This is a decision we have come to after a lot of careful consideration – and will help our plans to rejuvenate the town. Our plans have also been endorsed by the Town Centre Manager in Romsey, Mark Edgerley and Andover BID Manager, Steve Godwin.

Car parking prices as of April 2020 (Medium Stay Car Parks):

Two hours - £1

Three hours - £2

Four hours - £3

Five hours - £4

All-day - £5.90

Car parking prices if the previous parking strategy (of inflationary rises) had been applied:

Two hours - £1.75

Three hours - £2.15

Four hours - £2.90

Five hours - £3.65

All-day - £5.90

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