Fight to save 'vital' Bridgnorth car park has cost £45,000 - 'but it's worth it'
The ongoing battle to keep one of Bridgnorth’s ‘vital’ car parks open has cost the town’s Chamber of Commerce £45,000 – but could have saved traders millions, the chairman has said.
Controversial plans to build on Old Smithfield car park were given the green light in June last year, but Stephen Robbins, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, said the £45,000 it had spent so far on fighting the proposals was not in vain.
He said the chamber was still fighting the decision made by the secretary of state for housing to approve the plans, which is now being considered by the local government and social care ombudsman.
“The chamber has incurred huge costs fighting the Old Smithfield development,” he said.
“But the developers themselves said implementing the plans would take away £1 million from High Street traders each year. That was meant to be up and running three years ago and we’ve delayed it and fought it up until this point.
“The inspector’s report claimed there isn’t a car parking problem in Bridgnorth but anyone that lives in the town, or even visits on a weekend, knows this is not the case.”
About 100 car parking spaces are set to be lost under the plans and more than 6,800 people signed a petition started by the Chamber of Commerce to halt the development.
Mr Robbins added: “It has been said that five national retailers were ready to move into the units but this doesn’t seem the case otherwise the units would have been built by now.
“The trend is that national retailers are not doing well in the economy and are reducing their shop count rather than increasing it.”
After the plans were approved, the town’s mayor, councillor Ron Whittle, said a multi-storey car park was the only solution to the town’s parking problem.
He also said the town’s park and ride provided part of the solution to congestion and lack of parking in the town.
But following years of subsiding the service, the chamber said it no longer has the funds to continue to do so, leaving the future of the park and ride under threat.