THE closure of a town centre car park has already had an impact on nearby shops according to store owners.
On Monday the 20-space car park on Commercial Road was closed – and businesses in the Tented Market have spoken out about the impact it will have on their trade.
Swindon Council announced earlier this year that it was set to close a number of car parks across the town to save cash and free-up land for regeneration.
Cabinet proposed to save £400,000 in operating costs by closing “surplus” parking spaces to mitigate the impact of the new 850-space car park at Union Square, which is set to open earlier than expected, and to reduce the number of spaces to 4,000 in the town centre.
Cabinet has agreed to close the Queenstown, Cheltenham Street and number of other smaller surface car parks, including Harding Street, Queen Street, and Commercial Road/Davis Place, Morley Street. The John Street multi-storey car park will be demolished at a cost of about £150,000.
Now Nick Hayward, the manager of the Tented Market, has spoken out against the closure and said that footfall would reduce as a result and potential businesses would be put off from renting spaces.
He said: “We are really angry about it. That car park has always been busy and a lot of people, especially the elderly, used it to access the market.
“We have a lot of people parking there and popping in to use the facilities and already we are seeing a drop in footfall in just a day.
“It makes it even more difficult for me to try and get businesses to rent spaces.
“We would like the council to reconsider their decision and re-open the car park.”
Karl Edwards, owner of Computer Wizard, said customers had already spoken to him about the closure and were going elsewhere with better access.
He said: “With the nature of my business, people used the car park to bring across their computers but now it has closed customers have already said that they are going elsewhere.
“It is really going to affect the shops and there was no consultation with the owners before it happened. I think they should reopen it as it will make more money as a car park than an empty space.”
Under the plans, the Commercial Road and Morley Street car parks will be turned into green spaces, and Cheltenham Street and Queenstown will be developed under the Union Square scheme.
At the time of the announced closures, Coun Garry Perkins, cabinet member for regeneration and culture, said: “The surface car parks can be used to be integrated into future plans for the town centre.
“If you can accumulate empty land around each designated project area, it obviously makes it easier to look forward to what you could do with that area.”