The multi-storey car park will always lose money.
Canterbury City Council’s plans to build a multi-storey car park in Station Road West, Canterbury, at a cost of over £9 million will be millstone around the council’s neck for many years to come.
With the recently built car park at the end of Station Road West, the council’s own figures show that there is now sufficient parking capacity in the St Dunstan’s area for the next 15 years*.
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These figures are based on an optimistic forecast for the growth in parking demand of 3% per annum*. It is doubtful, however, whether the roads in the area could take this additional traffic which would amount to an increase of 55% after 15 years. It could be significantly longer than 15 years, may be never, before the existing car parks are at capacity.
There is still spare capacity in the city centre car parks, although better signage is required to direct drivers to car parks with empty spaces. It is planned that the growth in demand from the city centre will be catered for by the creation of 550 additional spaces at the three Park & Ride sites.
It is now clear that there is no ‘suppressed demand’ for additional parking both in Station Road West and the city centre. Therefore, there would be no overall increase in parking income to the council from building the multi-storey car park.
The council’s estimate of the cost of financing and operating the car park is £524,337 per annum*. As there will be no additional parking income from building this car park, the accumulated losses over 15 years will reach a staggering £7.8 million.
When councils across the country are struggling to balance their budgets due to massive cuts in their grants from central government, it seems extraordinary that Canterbury City Council should be considering spending over £9 million on a car park which is not needed, and which will incur accumulated losses of £7.8 million within 15 years.
Michael Dixey is a business consultant living in Canterbury and has been a Liberal Democrat councillor since 1987.
* From the report to the Policy & Resources Committee on 15th November 2017