Council addresses concerns about plans for two city centre car parks

PUBLISHED: 16 January 2024

Colchester City Council has responded to speculation about the future of city centre parking.
Developing the Britannia and/or Vineyard Street car parks to help revitalise the city centre has been a goal of the council and a discussion for Colchester for many years, but on the understanding that car parking would, as now, continue to be sufficient for all but the most exceptional moments of peak demand.

With the securing of nearly £40 million in regeneration funding, Colchester now has a unique opportunity to breathe new life into our city, ensuring it is fit for future generations, and to look again at the future of both car parks.

Following a comprehensive consultation with over 2,000 residents, the proposed development plans for the Britannia car park site include public realm improvements, a heritage path linking the city centre to Colchester Town railway station, and housing. The project also aims to renew Colchester's distinct Priory, through enhanced lighting. The £11.8 million redevelopment of St Botolph’s Circus is poised to be the first scheme underway in the eastern part of the city, igniting regeneration.

The proposed regeneration of Vineyard Street car park is a long-term ambition, and it’s unlikely that any work will start in the next five years.
“It’s understandable that those who enjoy using Britannia and Vineyard Street car parks are speculating what this means for them,” said Cllr David King, Leader of the Council.

“The proposals for these developments have been guided by data provided by an independent parking specialist. We have modelled the impact of the regeneration plans on visitors traveling by car to Colchester for shopping, business, and leisure. There will be only minor losses in parking income as most Britannia and Vineyard Street parkers will use other nearby car parks.

“There's more than enough parking space in nearby car parks to meet the expected demand of visitors. These car parks, if developed alongside other measures to improve city centre accessibility and vibrancy, would offer spare capacity on all but very peak days. Even on such days, like the Saturdays in the lead up to Christmas, reaching full capacity would only be for a very short period of time, less than 30 minutes.”

Based on this data, Colchester City Council is looking to future proof city centre parking through an updated Parking Strategy later this year. These plans could include works to extend the life span of existing multi-storey car parks, ensuring a minimum of 10 years’ further use and widening parking spaces to accommodate larger vehicles, enhancing convenience and boosting confidence among those who choose to travel to the city centre by car.

In addition, Essex Highways is working on building a strong and effective public transport system to provide more reliable and frequent services. As part of the Tendring Colchester Border Garden Community development, they are also introducing the Rapid Transit System, which will offer faster-than-car bus services directly to the centre of Colchester.

Councillor King added: “Britannia car park will not be developed for some time. We will share the regeneration plans when available, and we will welcome support and constructive challenges – just as we will with Vineyard Street plans, though they are a long way off now. But we know the benefits of developing these car parks will far outweigh the minimal financial impact, while allowing commuters to continue to park conveniently in Colchester. Helping us to take a once-in-a-generation opportunity to regenerate the heart of Colchester city centre, ensuring that it not only has a proud past but also a vibrant future.”

Page last reviewed: 16 January 2024


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