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Car parking a ‘financial burden’ in Grantham but more spaces needed in Stamford review commissioned by South Kesteven District Council finds

A car park will be expanded to keep up with demand while in another town spaces are proving ‘a financial burden’.

South Kesteven District Council commissioned an independent capacity study to find out what the demand is for parking across Stamford, Grantham, Bourne and Market Deeping.

There are currently 802 bays spread out across the six council-run pay and display car parks in Stamford with 823 in Grantham.

Cattlemarket car park in Stamford
Cattlemarket car park in Stamford

South Kesteven District Council operates two car parks in Bourne and one in Market Deeping, which both have free parking.

At a finance and economic overview and scrutiny committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday, February 20) councillors were asked to consider the findings of the car parking study and share their thoughts.

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Introducing the report, deputy council leader Richard Cleaver (Ind) said: “I believe in evidence-based decision making.

An aerial view of the Cattlemarket car park in Stamford. Photo: Google
An aerial view of the Cattlemarket car park in Stamford. Photo: Google

“We have evidence and the council can now make its decision about something which is an important issue for many people in our towns.

“It does require us to give it some thought.”

The results of the survey, which was carried out on a Friday and Saturday in November, showed there is a lack of available spaces in Stamford with many of the town centre car parks full during peak times.

Across the town not many spaces are available during the midday peak on a Friday, market day, with occupancy beginning to fall from 2pm.

South Kesteven District Council leader Richard Cleaver
South Kesteven District Council leader Richard Cleaver

On the Saturday it was observed that the car parks get busier in the early afternoon, although on-street spaces in Bath Row and Broad Street were mostly full for the whole day.

Although the smaller car parks were full, there was ‘plenty of space’ in Cattlemarket all day.

On-street parking spaces in the town centres, which have one or two hour limits, are also in demand and it is difficult for drivers to find a space during the busy periods of day, the report states.

It adds traffic congestion in Stamford makes it more difficult to find the remaining parking spaces, which in turn adds to the queues.

The study also found that while most car parks are in good or reasonable condition some would benefit from maintenance or improvement, such as making St Leonard’s Street and Wharf Road multi-storey, and that issues with the payment machines can cause significant queues.

The findings of the capacity study support plans to extend Cattlemarket car park – which were initially put forward in 2020 and delayed due to the pandemic - but suggest more signage is needed to ensure drivers are aware of this increased provision.

Funding of £500,000 would create about 80 new spaces.

Coun Ben Green (Con) questioned parking in the long term with the potential for driverless cars and fewer households having their own vehicles in the future.

He also asked what the repayment period would be for the initial £500,000 investment, as this is £5,000 to £6,250 per parking space.

Coun Cleaver responded: “This is clearly an investment and future-proofing.

“You only have to look at the local plan to see we are expecting our towns to expand.

“This is a great example of South Kesteven having infrastructure before houses are built.”

He added: “[Future-proofing] is why we aren’t disposing of the over capacity without bearing in mind future needs and in Stamford why we are staying ahead of the curve.”

Richard Wyles, deputy chief executive, explained the report echoes the information the council has already gathered from pay-and-display machine data that there is an oversupply in Grantham and capacity issue in Stamford.

“All car parks in Grantham are underperforming and are a financial burden,” he said.

“Both multi-stories are operating at a loss.”

The report noted there are inconsistent parking charges between the towns in South Kesteven, which could differ further as the council plans to increase its prices.

It was questioned whether the council will be making a profit after the price hike, break even or continue at a loss.

Mr Wyles admitted he was ‘sitting on the fence’. He said: “We are stepping into the unknown.

“It’s hard to cost accurately.”

Councillors also agreed to another car parking study, six months after the increased parking tariffs are introduced, to assess their impact.

Further work will also look into parking arrangements for blue badge holders.

A Stamford man recently called for cheaper parking as the solution town’s traffic problems.

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