We are residents of Kings Road and we overlook the Waitrose car park.
Since we moved into the Kings Road 4 years ago there has been a push by certain groups of the Henley Town Council to put another level in the existing Waitrose car park. The main arguments in support of the car park appear to be that there are insufficient parking spaces to meet peak demand and that the queues and congestion are polluting.
This argument does not withstand minimal scrutiny. There are multiple car parks in Henley, at the Rugby Club, Mill Meadows and Greys Road. These car parks are never full and there is no system for redirecting traffic to available spaces. Fully utilising these parking options would reduce the traffic and pollution in central Henley and encourage footfall across the town.
There are significant inefficiencies in the way the Waitrose car park is currently run. Car parking attendants are sporadic and therefore time limits are not always enforced. The construction workers for Townlands Hospital / Laureate Gardens residential development and Gardiner’s Place frequently park in the Waitrose car park and stay there. Unlike any other car parking system I’ve ever encountered, the price to park in the centre of town (i.e. at Waitrose), is as little as half the price compared to parking further out of town; indeed it is free from 3pm on Saturday through Sunday, when demand is highest! Where is the incentive for those who can, to park and walk? For those who argue Waitrose shoppers wouldn’t carry their shopping, why can’t Waitrose facilitate a collection point as at Twyford? And the Henley bus service, which is consistently underused and often completely empty of passengers could be utilised to carry passengers from the town centre to the car parks.
Climate change, pollution and air quality are amongst the most important priorities for our entire country. The Government is establishing a new Office of Environmental Protection with the power to investigate and enforce environmental law, including taking public bodies to court over their environmental policies. The Council’s own feasibility study dismissed the additional car parking deck; recommending improved signage. When other local authorities and Councils are taking brave, forward-thinking steps to address pollution and improve air quality, why isn’t ours?