New car park coming to Chorley town centre - but for how long?
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Chorley Council is planning to lay out the short-stay facility on land previously occupied by the recently-levelled Buzz Bingo building on Market Street opposite the town hall. The car park is expected to be in operation before the Christmas rush.
As the Lancashire Post and Chorley Guardian reported last month, there have been calls from market traders for the additional spaces to be made permanent in order to encourage more shoppers - especially those with mobility problems - to visit the town centre.
However, a meeting of the full council heard that there are longer term plans to turn the area into a civic square.
The leader of the authority accepts that creating a new car park in the town centre will have “an impact” on the environment and air quality - but says that it could also bring benefits to both.
Alistair Bradley told members that extra short-stay spaces were needed, particularly on the busiest days of Tuesday and Saturday - and that making it easier to park would cut down on the time spent searching for a spot.
“We do see an awful lot of circulation of our town centre at the moment, both on Market Street and the Flat Iron car park. So in the short term, it may be argued...that it will improve [the environment], because we won’t have people circling around looking for parking spaces, there will be more available straight away," Cllr Bradley said.
He added that the temporary facility would also provide an opportunity to close the Queens Road car park, allowing for it to be refurbished and for electric car charging points to be installed.
Conservative opposition group leader Martin Boardman said his party had “no problem whatsoever” with the provision of extra parking in the town - providing it was needed.
However, he cautioned against spending the £142,000 that it is estimated it will cost to lay the car park if its existence is going to be fleeting.
“We don't know whether [the temporary period] is going to be six months until government funding comes through...or five years. I’m concerned that we [will] spend that money and [the car park will] actually be [in use] for a very short period of time.”
Cllr Bradley said that the time it was likely to take to start work on any future redevelopment of the site backed by the Levelling Up Fund meant that the car park would probably be situ for at least 12 or 18 months.
“If the government came and gave us £25m tomorrow...I think £142,000 of Tarmac would look very cheap,” he said.
The council meeting heard that there would be a need for extensive remediation beneath the surface of the site before a permanent use was found for it.
The demolition of the bingo hall - which required careful removal of asbestos found within the fabric of the building - has cost the council £591,000