Letter of objection to @WaverleyBC re Wey Hill car park

My letter of objection to Waverley Borough Council regarding proposed refurbishment of Wey Hill car park. Deadline to reply is Friday. Correspondence to be sent to fairgroundcarpark@waverley.gov.uk

Dear Sirs

I strongly object to your plans to refurbish the Wey Hill car park and introduce Pay & Display parking as advertised in your Public Notice in The Haslemere Herald, dated 19th October 2012.

Haslemere is a market town that is separated in two by the train station, with Wey Hill being less attractive than the main town centre and economically struggling. The town has a high speed link to London. Commuters travel to Haslemere from across the three counties of Surrey, Hampshire and Sussex in order to start/end a train journey in Haslemere. Regarding car usage and parking:

  • There are inadequate bus connections and non-existent park & ride services. This means car users have no choice but to rely heavily on all-day parking provision in the town to use the train station.
  • According to WBC, the majority of commuters using the Wey Hill car park travel from Liphook (which has its own train station). They do this as South West Trains changed their timetable to offer a more frequent train service from Haslemere than from Liphook.
  • Car dependency will further increase due to residential developments in Fernhurst, the King Edward Hospital site Midhurst, eco-town development in Borden and in Haslemere itself. This means there is an urgent need to address the problem of car parking capacity in the town.
  • There are considerable objections to the current SCC proposals for yellow line parking restrictions. Their proposals exacerbate current problems for local residents by reducing car parking capacity in Haslemere.

Accommodating a growing number of commuters travelling by car is a growing problem and these WBC proposals do nothing to solve this.

In May 2012 the Leader of Surrey County Council, David Hodge, announced that he was setting up a transport group (http://news.surreycc.gov.uk/2012/05/21/group-set-up-to-look-into-transport-issues/). This group recognises there are transport issues in Haslemere that need to be addressed, including parking, and we have been promised a long term holistic solution with full and open consultation. In addition, a Neighbourhood Planning Forum in Haslemere is being set up under the provisions of the Localism Act. It would be premature and wrong to proceed with these Wey Hill proposals before both of these developments have had the chance to make a holistic assessment of the current and future parking issues and a Neighbourhood plan has been drawn up for this site.

If WBC proceeds to formal consultation and submits an application to develop common land for the refurbishment and introduction of Pay & Display on the Wey Hill car park, it will fail to recognise the extraordinary timing of these two events and it will undermine the goodwill, drive, commitment and resources of Haslemere residents who are passionate about creatively and sensitively regenerating this area of town.

Until stakeholders from Surrey County Council, Waverley Borough Council, The Chamber of Trade, The Town Council, The Parish Council, resident groups, commuters, the Neighbourhood Planning Forum, The Haslemere Society, The Wey Centre and Wey Hill businesses meet and undertake a comprehensive transport plan for Haslemere, no decision should be made about resurfacing the Wey Hill fairground car park. No decision should be made without analysing the far reaching impact on the town. Indeed, I would suggest that if Waverley Borough Council goes ahead with their fairground car park refurbishment, they irretrievably hamper the planning of a holistic transport plan for Haslemere. It would also harmfully and irrevocably reduce the scope of the Neighbourhood Planning Forum to help regenerate the Wey Hill area of Haslemere.

The car park site offers many opportunities. Some examples include:

  • Planning of the site to assist the economic regeneration of the Wey Hill area.
  • Evaluation of the site’s potential to accommodate a multi-storey commuter park with other provisions in front.
  • Linking the Wey Hill car park site with the Wey Youth Centre that borders the site.
  • Provision of free parking for shoppers to encourage footfall and for low paid employees who are faced with the high cost of car ownership due to inadequate public transport.
  • Haslemere is a small market town with no market square. Here is an ideal opportunity to provide one which would also be an outside meeting place.
  • Development of beautiful landscaping at the front.

I urge you to withdraw these proposals and to allow the future of the Wey Hill car park to be decided with full consultation as part of the Neighbourhood Planning process and in collaboration with SCC’s promise of a holistic solution for Haslemere.