Councillors clash over future of car parking sites near high street

Councillor Keith Farr is unhappy at plans to re-develop the North Cross Street car park and other parking areas in Gosport Picture Ian Hargreaves (171548-1)

IF WE lose our car parks, we may end up losing the high street as well.

That is the warning from Labour councillors in Gosport amid fears over the future of car parks in the town.

The news comes following the closure of the consultation period for the town’s Supplementary Planning Document, which earmarked some of the car parks near Gosport High Street for potential redevelopment into residential sites.

In Gosport Borough Council’s SPD, the car park in North Cross Street has been pencilled in for commercial and residential units.

The document includes plans for the car parks in Clarence Road and Coates Road – though notes that car parking should be kept to an ‘adequate’ level.

According to Labour Cllr Keith Farr, redeveloping these car parks could spell disaster for the economic future of the town.

He said: ‘I think that it’s really important for us to keep the car parks in the town.

‘If we were to build residential properties on top of the existing car parks, I wonder where people would park if they wanted to pop into the town centre.

‘To me and the other Labour councillors, it would be devastating if we were to lose these sites.

‘I am worried that if we build on these sites, our high street will die out completely, making the SPD almost seem pointless.’

But Conservative Cllr Graham Burgess believes that Cllr Farr is merely ‘scaremongering’.

He said: ‘These are only sites that could be developed, and “could” is the key word here.

‘I can say with confidence that there are no plans to redevelop the car parks.

‘There are plenty of places to park in the town at the moment – and in fact there are over 1,000 spaces where you can park free of charge.

‘If anything were to change then there would be a contingency plan, such as building a multi-storey car park.

‘This is a scaremongering tactic from Cllr Farr, nothing more.’

A final version of the SPD is due to be presented to the council in early 2018.

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