Canterbury City Council has announced that it will be pushing ahead with the construction of a controversial £9.1 million multiple storey car park as part of a new integrated transport hub in St Dunstan’s next to Canterbury West Station.
The announcement comes following a lengthy 2-year proposal process that saw the development’s original design revised and multiple consultations with residents and focus groups.
The planned development, originally proposed in 2016, plans to increase the number of spaces on the Station Road car park from 125 to 380, with room for a further 20 blue badge holder spaces.
The development will also see a large-scale rollout of the new license plate recognition software, currently trialled elsewhere in Canterbury, that can detect the type of power a vehicle runs on, as well at up to date vehicle data.
The most recent design proposal was released to Canterbury residents in January 2017 to open consultation by the Council.
The Council received over 600 responses to the planned proposal and 5 extended responses from local lobbying groups.
Out of these responses, only 46 comments were in direct favour of the proposal, while 86 were in direct opposition.
Another 482 were in opposition to aspects of the proposal, two of the interest groups responded in complete opposition to the bill, and two other groups raised concerns over aspects of the car park plans.
In June, the Canterbury Liberal Democrat Party announced their own proposal for an alternative integrated transport hub to the current Conservative backed plans.
The alternative to the multi-storey car park plans is to have a more environmentally friendly hub layout which is more in line with local architecture.
The plan also aims to retain a similar parking capacity as the current plans by turning the disused office spaces on the other side of the rail-line into extra parking spaces.
Liberal Democrat Councillor for Canterbury Mike Dixey called the original announcement ‘beggars’ belief’ and that the Tory-dominated Canterbury County Council’s plans will be a ‘magnet’ for anti-social behaviour and drug dealing in the area.
Cllr Dixey also argues that the estimated £9.1 million car park would be much better spent on council housing and repairing roads and pavements.
A recent petition organised by The Canterbury Society in opposition to the development reached 2,000 signatures from Canterbury residents.
Most Council members in favour of the motion were from towns around Canterbury whose constituents would most benefit from increased parking on the busy HS1 London commuter line.
The Canterbury Society has also accused the Council of not tendering offers for building prices, and instead have settled for the first offers placed on the plans to speed up development times but potentially increase building costs.