For sale: a car park headache?
By Simon Hacker | 14th September 2023
A popular Gloucestershire village's short-stay car park could be sold off by Cheltenham Borough Council next week.
But local business questions the move and Punchline-Gloucester.com can report that the site might give the vendors a sinking feeling.
Despite pressure reported by businesses in the area, an upcoming Cheltenham Borough Council cabinet meeting has been internally advised to sell off the council's Idsall Road car park in Prestbury.
Identified as a potential asset to dispose for a capital receipt, the space provides parking for up to 12 spaces for visitors and shoppers and is a short walk from the village's High Street.
Back in 2020, Cheltenham Borough Council identified the two-hour stay car park as a viable target for budgetary savings and an approach was made to the parish council for a transfer of ownership.
But if the decision to sell goes ahead next week, Prestbury Parish Council has ruled out buying the 0.16-acre facility after it commissioned a survey of the site.
A spokesperson for the parish told Punchline: "We sought an expert view and identified that the site has a sink hole and additional problems from a large beech tree. The subject has been provoking a lot of reaction and we even held a lively public meeting in January last year to discuss what to do.
"With the purchase cost effectively having to come out of the parish precept, we decided not to pursue it."
In a document for "Disposal of Land At Idsall Drive" the borough's principal surveyor, Peter Woodley, told the council: "nearby Prestbury High Street has around 23 on-street car parking spaces located within a similar distance to that of Idsall Drive, along with additional privately owned customer car parking."
He added: "Allowing for business rates, repairs, maintenance and asset management, it currently costs the council around £4k per annum in revenue, along with future potential capital liabilities."
A 2022 review of usage, he said, which covered traditional summer holiday period and typical school term time, showed that just "three vehicles accounted for 33% of total usage, two of which were commercial vehicles and one of which regularly exceeded the two-hour stay."
There was also a general surplus of available on-street car parking, he added.
However, if the car park is now sold off for housing, which is locally anticipated, Manoj Parkale, general manager of the popular King's Arms pub on Prestbury High Street, said it will impact business for the area.
Mr Parkale told Punchline: "Sundays are our busiest days and we can struggle, despite having our own car park. Parking challenges can have customers feeling negative and frustrated. We have 30 to 40 spaces for customers here and they are regularly used by people who don't come in. While it would be tempting to police that occupation, it's not good for our relationship with the local community. I don't think the [borough council] is taking such pressures for business into account."
● Cheltenham Borough Council is expected to decide on the future of the site on September 19th.
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