‘Another nail in our coffin’- shop owner says commuter parking is knocking trade

PUBLISHED: 12:30 25 January 2020

Spolit for Choice on Bridge Street in Downham Market. Picture: Sarah Hussain

Spolit for Choice on Bridge Street in Downham Market. Picture: Sarah Hussain


A shop owner says commuters parking all day in west Norfolk has reduced footfall and knocked his trade.

The Hollies car park, Downham Market. Picture: Ian BurtThe Hollies car park, Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

Peter Martin, owner of Spoilt for Choice on Bridge Street, has called for more policing of parking in Downham Market, saying his business has been struggling as a result of a lack of traffic flow and shoppers in the town.

Mr Martin said: "Parking is the bane of my life. I walk out of my house every morning and at 8.30am the Hollies car park is full.

"There isn't a space in the car park and there's not a soul in the town.

"In my job you need lots of customers to come through the door to make it pay.

Richard Gills outside his butcher shop on High Street in Downham Market. Picture: Sarah HussainRichard Gills outside his butcher shop on High Street in Downham Market. Picture: Sarah Hussain

"You need footfall and it's quite clear we're not getting it."

The shop owner of seven years claims car parks are often full of cars used by commuters, which prevents shoppers from freely accessing the town centre.

"People are driving in from Dereham and all sorts to park and catch a cheaper train here," he said.

"If the town doesn't do anything it'll be another nail in our coffin.

"I mean shopping has changed but if you can't park anywhere you're just going to move on.

"One argument I always hear is 'I can't park'. These people want to shop in our town but they can't."

Downham Market Town council is considering implementing charging in council-owned car parks to resolve the issue.

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A town council spokesman said: "Downham Market Town Council started to look at car parking in the town as a result of comments by traders, who were concerned that people were using the town car parks for all day parking and residents who couldn't find car parking spaces.

"By keeping cars flowing and freeing up car parking spaces, the town council hopes to increase trade and business in Downham Market."

Currently Downham has around 960 parking spaces, 37 of which are disabled spaces.

Mr Martin said: "We need the car parks free flowing, it's as simple as that.

"Charging does need to be done in order to save the town, but there needs to be a free period of about one or two hours.

"It's a huge problem. Other independent shops are of the same opinion, if you don't do anything about the parking we will go."

Other businesses in the town agree parking in the main car parks is an issue, saying more needs to be done to make parking restrictions around the town clearer.

Richard Gills, who runs a butchers on High Street, said: "It all needs to be changed to make it more uniform really.

"It's quite confusing because the timings on the signs are different all over town.

"The main car parks is an issue and I think charging will deter people from parking in them all day long.

"I don't see it as much of an issue, it is a problem for people who park all day long, so a couple hour free period would be good if they were to charge."

Darryl Spain, owner of Outdoor Antics on the High Street, said: "I don't think charging for parking is a good idea. Maybe after a few hours stay but charging from the get go will not be good.

"I've had the odd customer say they can't park opposite but I don't think it's an issue."

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