TRADERS say they will lose customers when charges are introduced to a free car park.
For more than a decade shoppers have been able to park for free in the car park behind Iceland in Cosham High Street.
But Lions Gate Properties, which owns the car park and the parade of shops that back on to it, is set to introduce charges to fund a regeneration project on the shops it owns.
Traders are now concerned it could put people off going to Cosham to shop.
Graeme Sutherland, who owns The Baby Scan Company in the High Street, and who is the chair of Cosham Traders’ Association, said: ‘We obviously don’t welcome parking charges.
‘If you start charging it’s just going to deter people from coming here. Traders could lose customers.’
Margaret Evans, who owns The Sandwich Shop, said: ‘I imagine a lot of our customers park there, there’s no other free parking around.
‘This is a big concern for businesses.’
Shoppers also think the charges are a bad idea.
Dave Spurrier, 53, from Eastleigh, shops in Cosham regularly as he has relatives in the area. He said: ‘If they start charging, it will definitely put people off coming here.’
Shoppers can currently park in all spaces in the car park for free, for up to an hour and a half.
But Lions Gate Properties is set to introduce charges for half of the car park.
Spaces immediately behind Iceland will remain free to park in for up to 90 minutes.
Other spaces behind the parade of shops will become staff only.
Kevin Kelehan from Lee Baron Commercial, the agent for Lions Gate Properties said: ‘Our client is looking to do some regeneration work to the parade of shops and so 100 per cent of the car park income will go towards that.
‘The charges will be cheaper than anywhere else in Cosham.’
Mr Kelehan also said the owners had been made aware of some commuters abusing the free parking by staying there all day.
Car parking prices, and a date for when they will be introduced, are yet to be decided.
But traders believe charges could come in later this month.