Churchfields Offices, Disposal - Inclusion of public car park, additional information following decision of 11/12/19
Members agreed to reconsider the report under Part 4 of the Council’s Constitution – Rules of Procedure (Standing Orders) following a motion to rescind a previous decision.
The Committee was addressed by the Vice-Chairman of Wincanton Town Council. He advised that Wincanton Town Council had entered into a compensation scheme with SSDC in 2012 and that in 2016 notice was given to cancel the agreement. He informed members that a survey was undertaken with local residents and the majority of people who responded were supportive of an increase in council tax to keep car parking free. Wincanton Town Council had informed SSDC that they were willing to enter into a new compensation agreement. He said that Wincanton Town Council had already budgeted and set its precept and would have no means of repaying residents if the car park was sold. Members were informed that the car park was well used by parents of children attending the school, various businesses including the dances studio, dental surgery who all rely on the car park. With reference to the regeneration programme, it was hoped that there would be a greater footfall within the town and a greater need for car parking spaces.
The Committee was addressed by sixteen members of the public in objection to the disposal of the public car park at Churchfields. Comments made included the following:
· The loss of the car park would have a huge impact on the businesses and residents in Wincanton.
· Wincanton had a lot of flats with no parking spaces.
· There was limited public transport therefore parking needed to be provided.
· The car park was well used on a daily basis and important for bringing new vitality to the town and keeping Wincanton sustainable.
· The church was well supported, had a large regular congregation and was popular for weddings and funerals and people would require parking for more than an hour.
· There was already a vast amount of new housing and services were stretched to the limit.
· Closure of the car park would threaten the vitality of the town centre and the quality of life of the people that live in Wincanton.
· Closure of the car park would lead to chaotic parking in other areas of the town.
· People would decide to shop out of town because of lack of parking.
· Wincanton was embarking on a regeneration programme to encourage visitors who would need all the parking available and probably more not less.
· There was no practical alternative parking available.
· Residential areas in parts of Wincanton had restricted parking or double yellow lines so visitors often had to use Churchfields car park as overspill.
· The streets were already full with parked vehicles and there was no room for anymore.
· Wincanton voted for free parking and this should remain.
· Support for less regeneration and the car park to be kept.
· Installing electric charging points in car parks would encourage people with electric cars to visit and help support Wincanton.
· Concerns over an increase in illegal parking making the streets more dangerous and the potential for accidents.
· Where were the residents of Churchfields and visitors to the lower part of the town expected to park?
· Residents have been misled by the vote that was held and at no time was only two car parks mentioned.
· Consideration should be given to introducing parking permits for residents.
· Parking spaces on the grasscrete should be retained in the district council ownership which would require minimal maintenance. The land could not be built upon because of its proximity to the trees.
The Property Development Project Manager introduced the report and confirmed that at the December Area East Committee a decision was taken not to dispose of the grass-crete strip of land.
Cllr. Nick Colbert advised that he had received further comments from eleven people who were unable to attend the meeting. Comments made included the following:
· The car park was needed.
· All the car parks were well used.
· Sale of the car park would cause a problem for Wincanton.
· This would be a retrograde step and should not be allowed to happen.
· Residents want Wincanton to prosper.
· As a user of the dance studio the car park was used as somewhere safe to get to after classes especially in winter and inclement weather.
· Where would the cars park instead?
· No consultation with local people.
· Effect on local businesses.
· The car park was vital for people without driveways.
· There would be no safe place to drop off and pick up children from school.
During the debate, members made the following comments:
· There was no support for the disposal of the car park within the town.
· Car parking space was valuable.
· Properties within Church Street had been given planning approval for multi-use occupancy on the basis that the car park would be available.
· Surveys undertaken had included requests for more and better car parking.
· No consultation on the proposal had been undertaken.
· Support for investigating a community transfer of assets from SSDC to Wincanton Town Council.
In response to a member comment, the Property Development Project Manager confirmed that the open piece of land with the trees located upon it was not subject to any proposal to dispose.
At the conclusion of the debate, it was proposed and seconded that the car park and the grass-crete parking area stay in the ownership of SSDC and the remainder of the land is disposed of. A vote was taken and the proposal was unanimously supported.
That members noted the situation regarding the public car park and the representation of views from Wincanton Town Council.
That the car park and grass-crete parking area stay in the ownership of SSDC and the remainder of the land is disposed of.
(Voting: unanimous in favour)