Thursday, May 4, 2017

News: Planners deliver Tesco parking verdict

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Planning officers at Rotherham Council are recommending that plans be approved to enable Tesco to bring in new parking restrictions at its £40m Extra store in the town centre.

The recommendation on the plans, which would see shoppers wanting to park for over 30 minutes having to spend £5 in the store and register their vehicle, has been made as the condition on the car park in the original application five years ago was based on encouraging other forms of sustainable transport, and not encouraging linked trips into town and boosting footfall.

Rothbiz reported first that the largest retailer in the UK intends to introduce restrictions at its Rotherham Extra store at Drummond Street.

Montagu Evans, consultants for Tesco, state that the retailer is "finding that their car park is coming under considerable pressure and is being used by non-Tesco customers, detracting from the attractiveness of the store as a main food shopping location, and in turn impacting on its trading performance."

The national retailer's planning application seeks a variation over a planning condition inserted by Rotherham Council when the planning application for the 110,000 sq ft superstore was approved in 2012.

Tesco needs the approval if it is to introduce a new system. Validation machines have already been installed in store and the new restrictions are being advertised as "coming soon."

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Now a report to the planning board at Rotherham Council shows that members are being recommended to approve the plans which would vary the condition that enforced a car park plan including details of the availability of two hours free parking for customers and non customers of the store. It was included by the Council "to limit the availability of free parking and to encourage the use of sustainable transport."

On the latest plans, the report sates: "The current variation of the condition would not be contrary to the relevant national and local planning policies and is considered acceptable."

It added that the variation is "not contrary to the spirit of the original condition" and that three hours parking will facilitate linked trips into the town centre.

This was not the view of the Council's regeneration arm, RiDO, which is responsible for the town centre and the nearby markets, who warned that new proposed parking restrictions will have a negative effect.

Commenting on the plans, RiDO said: "There is a high risk of negatively impacting on footfall, and discouraging shoppers who visit the store from also visiting the town centre. The proposals will drive customers away from the markets complex and damage the town centre footfall as a whole."

The applicant states that the revised controls will ensure that there is a greater turnover of parking to create more freely available spaces for shoppers to visit both the store and shops located in the town centre.
The car park currently allows for three hours free parking without the need for any spend in store or validation. The new system will mean that shoppers wanting to use the 600 space car park but not the Tesco store will only be given 30 minutes to head into town before leaving the site.

Those wanting to use the car park will still be able to visit the rest of the town centre in their three hours, so long as they spend £5 at Tesco and validate their parking.

When it opened, the store operated on a 24 hour basis. Opening hours were cut to 6am to midnight last year.

The new "ParkShopReg" system involves parking being validated on the day of visiting the store. This can be done at store using the machines provided or by using a mobile phone app. A free parking voucher will be printed for customers in store which includes a barcode and voucher code. Drivers will have up until midnight on the day to validate using the app.

Those who don't validate their parking or stay longer than three hours will be issued a penalty charge notice of £70, reduced to £40 if paid in 14 days.

Tesco recently reported its first UK sales growth in seven years. Group revenue for the year ending February 28 2017 rose 3.7% to £55.9 billion, though profits were down 28% to £145m after taking a £235m charge relating to the 2014 accounting scandal.

Tesco website

Images: TCN / Google Maps


7 comments:

Anonymous,  May 4, 2017 at 11:13 AM  

Shows that Free Parking is wanted by the people of Rotherham.

But Labour will not let go of parking revenues, with the usual blind ambition...

redpola May 4, 2017 at 12:21 PM  

This will be discussed at a council meeting on 11th May. You can find the agenda of that meeting here. The relevant details can be found by searching for "0245" and are on pages 39 to 46. The meeting is open to the public.

Notably, Tesco has not provided evidence that the car park is full. In fact the evidence they provided shows the opposite- that the car park was underutilised in March 2017.

"Information has been provided to show the car park occupancy for March when the new
ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) parking control was brought into use. The
data submitted does not identify the alleged parking issues which the application is
intended to address, as occupancy data which pre-dates the installation of the parking
control is not available. However, the submitted data does indicate that the car park is
operating well below its optimum occupancy rate (85%) for the majority of the time,
which suggests there could be spare capacity to allow use by non-customers of the
store. "

Jon May 4, 2017 at 6:05 PM  

Rotherham council ahould reject this to show Tesco that they should have seeked permission first.

Anonymous,  May 4, 2017 at 11:13 PM  

well it look like the they are going to get there way Tesco
and they wonder why people are leaving town and shopping else where cos they offer free parking and all the other retailer are leaving as well

Mr me May 5, 2017 at 10:49 AM  

Why should Tesco a private company provide free parking??If Rotherham council want free parking,then why dot they allow free parking in council run car parks?We pay our council tax to RMBC not Tesco,its should be the council that provide free spaces!

Kamran Malik May 11, 2017 at 12:44 PM  

Another nail in the coffin of Rotherham town centre. That's why if I need to go to the bank now I will just drive to Meadowhall instead. I also don't tend to bother with the red zone parking at Forge Island because who wants to faff around putting a ticket on your car to park for free anyway?

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