The Artful Codger: Pressures on parking

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The news that West Norfolk Council is planning to build homes and shops on Boal Street Car Park must surely be the clincher in the argument for the provision of a second multi-storey car park in Lynn town centre.

The redevelopment of Boal Quay is a “high priority” project for the council, according to its blueprint for future development, so that must make a second multi-storey car park an absolute imperative.

After all, if Boal Quay is to be the site of 330 new homes, as well as retail and commercial units, then the pressure on town centre parking spaces will almost certainly build up to breaking point.

The council’s future proposals earmark 2,900 new homes to be built in Lynn, yet ignore the town centre parking problem, which is surely going to get much worse in the next few years as available space in the town centre disappears while the number of cars needing to park in the centre just grows and grows.

The ideal solution would be a multi-storey car park at the back of Norfolk Street, built on the land currently occupied by the Albert Street and Austin Street West car parks.

A multi-storey could even be built as one unit, with the existing Albert Street running through the ground floor level, and three decks above street level for further parking spaces.

At a stroke, it would cure the imbalance in town centre footfall created by having the one existing multi-storey car park on one side the shopping centre. With a multi-storey on each side of the centre, Norfolk Street would once again enjoy the prominence that has made it so popular down the years.

And even the council would be winners in the long term, as they would benefit from the revenues generated by the new multi-storey and would surely not take too long to recoup their initial investment. What’s not to like?

Surely it’s all about getting off on the right foot and making the big infrastructure decisions in the first place that lay the foundations for successful future progress.

With good parking provision in place, the town centre becomes a much more attractive proposition for businesses thinking about moving into that area. Surely, anyone on the council who also happens to run a business of their own should be able to see the logic of that argument?

Sometimes you have to be bold and take the lead, rather than hope you can just clear the ground for others to come forward.

Maybe some of the considerable sums of money already generated by parking in the town centre could be allocated towards the cost of the new multi-storey.

One thing’s for sure – if nothing is done then within the next ten years the town centre will be choked by parking problems.

In those circumstances, the out-of-town retail outlets would be rubbing their hands with glee. How many more “shop within a shop” moves will be sparked to places like Dobbies Garden Centre at Hardwick before the message gets through to West Norfolk Council?

The time for decisions is now, not in 2020. Indeed, if the “high priority” development at Boal Quay happens in the next year or two, the need for additional parking will be so acute that we might see hasty action when the crunch comes.