A strategy to overhaul car parking in Wetherby is now reaching the final stages of discussions.
Leeds City Council (LCC) and Wetherby Town Council have been working on the issue for months now, and the News has learnt that the plans, which are set to designate parking areas at strategic points in Wetherby, could be released as early as next Thursday (March 12).
There are plans afoot to change the parking strategy in Wetherby. We need to let everyone know what is happening, but the timing of that is important.Wetherby Coun Gerald Wilkinson (Con)
In the next week, therefore, new schemes to accommodate the increasing number of cars could be revealed, and these may include: four hour only parking at the Wilderness Car Park, long stay provision and refurbishment at Station Gardens for commuters, and free parking for an additional 144 cars at Hallfield Lane lorry park, with no provision for lorries on the site.
Rumours of what else the strategy could entail have begun to circulate, but Wetherby Coun Gerald Wilkinson (Con) said no final decisions have been made yet.
“The lorry park has not closed, the contract has been extended, though I don’t know for how long, and we have thought of the Wilderness going to four hours but nothing has been agreed yet,” he said.
“These are part of discussions we are having and it will probably be Thursday of next week when we make the final decision as to what is going to happen.
“There are plans afoot to change the parking strategy in Wetherby. We need to let everyone know what is happening, but the timing of that is important.”
Developments have already started, with announcements that lorries will no longer be permitted to use the lorry park once the 144 spaces are added causing much concern for market traders currently using the site who did not know where else they could go. Work on Hallfield Lane is due to begin in April and is likely to take about 16 weeks.
Work will also be starting at Station Gardens next month, preparing for it to become a long stay area after six to eight weeks.
An LCC spokesman explained: “The Wetherby parking strategy is still in the early stages of implementation but is aimed at freeing up parking spaces for shoppers and visitors and helping to maintain the vitality of Wetherby as a local centre.
“The first steps of the strategy will see the creation of a car park at Hallfield Lane for shoppers and visitors. Work on this is provisionally scheduled for this summer.
“Proposals are also in place for a facility for commuters at Station Gardens, with work scheduled to take place in late April to early May.
“The community has been consulted on the proposals and we look forward to making further progress in due course.”
The Mayor of Wetherby Coun Harry Chapman, who will be at that meeting on March 12 with the ward councillors, said it is an ‘uncertain time’.
“There are two lots of people to consider: all day parkers going into Leeds and people coming into Wetherby to work, and if they’re working in the town they generally don’t have a car park, so it is a matter of whether it is all adequate.
“The temporary worry was where the market traders were going to park once Hallfield Lane lorry park becomes a car park.
“We are saying there is parking on the motorway services but I have been told there isn’t enough room, so it is an uncertain time at the moment.”
The importance of these plans is widely acknowledged, as business owners, workers, residents, and commuters have struggled with parking for some time now.
The strategy is therefore eagerly anticipated and the vice chair of Wetherby Business Association Denise Podlewska is among the many waiting to find out what the councils propose.
She said: “This was brought up at our AGM last week and I know there are going to be meetings about it because we are concerned, though it is hard to get too concerned when you haven’t been told the whole picture.
“It is something the business association is going to get involved in, but at the moment it is how we do it and that is right at the top of our agenda.”
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See www.wetherbynews.co.uk for a full update once the strategy is officially published.