November 23 2014 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
A frustrated businessman has suggested adding a second storey to his central Holt car park, in a bid to ease the town’s chronic parking problems.
Michael Baker said his patience was running out because “nothing was happening” in the long-running quest to create more parking in the picturesque Georgian north Norfolk town, and so he was investigating an extra parking tier on top of the car park outside his Budgen’s supermarket.
If approved, the project might cost up to £1m and could see a steel, roofed construction straddling both sections of the car park, which are separated by Kerridge Way.
Mr Baker, managing director of CT Baker, which includes Holt’s major department store Bakers and Larners, on Market Place, stressed the scheme was “in the very, very early stages.”
He added: “We are in the centre of Holt and we have struggled for a number of years with the lack of car parking in the town. We have got to the stage where it is severely restricting the growth of Holt town centre. This car park is possibly the most central and useful in the town.”
Mr Baker, who represents Holt on North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), said his car park contained more than 120 spaces and he anticipated a second tier would roughly double that figure.
He had made an initial approach to NNDC about the proposal. “There are potentially significant planning and highways issues with this scheme and then there is the engineering aspect of actually building it,” he added.
“I have asked the officers to let me know what the issues would be if we did put in a planning application.”
A major stumbling block was likely to be cost. It was far too early to say who would pay, but Mr Baker said he expected that his business would be the “lead company” in any venture.
He added: “I think, without doubt, there are sections of the community who will be totally horrified by this idea but, equally, there will be bigger sections who will be overjoyed that, at last, something is being done about parking in Holt.”
Mr Baker’s project was revealed at Monday’s meeting of Holt Town Council where members heard from county councillor Russell Wright that there had been no development on moves to conclude a deal between Norfolk County Council (NCC) and businessman Graham Chapman, who gained permission in 2009 for a 385-space car park off Thornage Road, Holt.
Negotiations, which have been shrouded in secrecy, are believed to have become quagmired over the amount the county wants in return for pedestrian access over its land to the site.
Mr Wright said that a high-level meeting had been held in July with attendees including county council chief executive David White, Mr Chapman and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.
As a result, a proposal was put forward with an end-of-August deadline. The time had expired and Mr Chapman had not responded.
Talking to the EDP, Mr Chapman said he had responded to the proposal and had received an email acknowledgement from the county council.
But he declined to discuss the proposal, or the nature of his response, saying the county council had asked him to keep the matter confidential.