Thursday, May 11, 2017

News: Rotherham Tesco parking plans passed

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The planning board at Rotherham Council had a mixed bag of opinions on Tesco's latest plans, but the casting vote from the chair means that the application to enable new parking restrictions at its Rotherham Extra store has been approved.

Planning officers recommended that plans be approved to enable Tesco to provide three hours free parking with the condition that shoppers wanting to park for over 30 minutes would have to spend £5 in the store and register their vehicle.

The planning board heard how this recommendation was based on the reason why the authority included a condition on the original application when the 100,000 sq ft store was approved in 2014.

An approved parking plan to offer two hours free parking was "to limit the availability of free parking and to encourage the use of sustainable transport" and not related to offering users the opportunity to make linked trips into the town centre. It was a imposed as a limitation rather than a requirement.

Nigel Hancock, assistant planning manager at Rotherham Council, explained: "On the face of it you might think these new restrictions would put people off but what you need to consider is the terminology that is used [by the applicant] on creating linked trips. I.e. link a trip to Tesco with a trip to the wider town centre facilities, and not to provide a car park so someone can just visit the town centre.

"The proposal should increase the opportunity to provide linked trips as it will increase the time available to park from two hours to three hours - giving more time to go into town and shop at Tesco, using their car park."

The officer also discussed the objections to the new restrictions which included 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.

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With discussion over how the store's care park is used, with Tesco stating that it is coming under considerable pressure and is being used by non-Tesco customers, the planning board where split over whether to approve the new application to vary the planning condition.

Cllr. Tweed told the meeting that he thought that the £5 minimum spend would be punishing shoppers and that three hours could be offered for free and policed by the new camera recognition system that will be in place. "I think you've got it all wrong," he said.

Cllr. Sansome disagreed and said that he thinks the new restrictions would help footfall. Tesco's planning consultants state 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.

Sympathising with Tesco for providing parking for non-store users, Cllr. Walsh added that "the new plan seems to be a good compromise."
Summing up the application, which needed to be made on material planning conditions, Cllr. Atkin, chair of the planning board, said: "I had mixed feelings about this when I first saw it and we had a frank and open discussion with officers.

"I was won round on the issue that we [Rotherham Council], ourselves charge for our surface car parks in Rotherham. We are expecting Tesco to offer free parking to anybody coming in to Rotherham when we don't do it ourselves. We are being a bit hypocritical. They actually aren't charging, they are just saying: "use our facilities.""

He added that he would have liked to see more proof from the retailer that the car park was being used by non Tesco shoppers but concluded that the application is a reasonable compromise.

The vote to approve the plans was split down the middle at six votes each. Cllr. Atkin's casting vote as chair meant that the plans were approved by the board.

It means that the new "ParkShopReg" system can now be implemented which 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.

Operated by a private firm, 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 website

Images: TCN / Google Maps


5 comments:

Anonymous,  May 11, 2017 at 2:16 PM  

This is an absolutely disgraceful decision by the planning committee. It flies in the face as to why Tesco was granted planning permission in the first case and has been passed without any scrutiny or thought for the people and businesses it effects.

The old site had free parking for two hours, which has been continued by RMBC, so to say the Council doesn't provide any free parking resources in the town just isn't right.

I for one will not be shopping at Tesco any time in the foreseeable future.

Cllr Nigel Simpson,  May 11, 2017 at 3:12 PM  

3 hours free parking in Rotherham should be the norm especially at the hospital...

redpola May 12, 2017 at 12:18 PM  

I can see that there has been much discussion and consideration of this issue, but there seems to be relatively little actual evidence presented. It's easy to sway opinions with weaselwords and hyperbole ("3 hours with a £5 min spend will increase footfall in Rotherham versus 2 hours parking for free because of linked tripes" seems as good an example as any) but these types of hypotheses can be fully demonstrated with hard evidence that I'm afraid our representatives have not demanded.

A lack of a statistical approach means that the decision has been made on the basis of speculation.

Another approach might have been a trial period to test this notion that footfall in Rotherham will actually increase rather than just passing the proposition.

Why did our councillors not demand hard evidence to support the application? Why did they not offer a trial period to gather hard evidence?

redpola May 12, 2017 at 3:14 PM  

Just a note to say that of course I meant "linked trips" and not "linked tripes".

Unknown July 8, 2017 at 3:34 PM  

In effect then 3 hours free parking is actually £5 for 3hours parking.

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