Adopt-a-driveway scheme aims to help Aylsham parking

Residents are being asked to lend their empty daytime driveways to traders in a bid to free up more spaces for shoppers in a north Norfolk town's car parks.

The 'adopt a driveway' move at Aylsham sees a plea to people who are out at work all day to let businesses use their home parking.

The idea, aimed at moving workers off all-day car parks to make room for tourists and shoppers, is part of a raft of ideas aimed at helping to invigorate the town centre

Requests are going out to householders within a 10-minute walk of the market place.

Shopkeeper Deborah Blake, chairman of the Aylsham Business Enterprise Forum, said if 10-20 people provided driveways it would help. Up to 40 would make a major difference.

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'While I have never had a problem parking, others do - and there is a perception of shortage of parking. Rather than sit about for hours in a meeting moaning about it, we decided to do something,' she explained.

As well as restricted-hours shoppers parking in the town, there are also two all-day car parks at the Buttlands and Bure Valley Railway which are used by workers, when spaces could be taken by visitors.

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Aylsham is seeking to attract more shoppers and tourists through promoting its market town attractions, such as a range of independent shops and a variety of market days.

Mrs Blake said: 'We have put out a request for people to let business owners park in people's house drives while they are out all day. It not only helps with the car parks, but a car on the drive at home provides added security as people think someone is in.

'If we want more trade we must make sure the car parks are working efficiently.'

Businesses were asking their regular customers about home drives, and other spaces were being achieved by talking to organisations like the local Ex-Servicemen's Club which had freed up eight slots.

Schools were also being explored for possible weekend and special event parking for businesses, said Mrs Blake who added: 'We have taken a pro-active approach.'

Other measures to help the town centre currently being worked on included getting more hanging street signs for traders in Red Lion Street, a trial of a tourist hopper bus linking the town to Blickling Hall and Bure Valley Railway, and expanding the range of markets.

The town currently has two farmers markets a month, but there were plans to add further specialist and themed ones that provided the feel of a 'big, buzzy, vibrant, creative hub' said Mrs Blake.

A three-day Frost Fair was also being hatched to make more of the Christmas lights switch on weekend.

The initiatives come as Aylsham and North Walsham both missed out on the latest round of Portas Pilot cash aimed at regenerating high street shopping.

Mrs Blake said that despite the setback they were striving to ensure the town 'continues to thrive and grow.'

North Walsham chamber of trade chairman Mair Stockdale said losing out in the Portas bids was 'very sad news.'

But she also remained upbeat, saying: 'You have got to look on the positive side. If it had not been for the Portas bid then we would not have got together as a community. We have got to take the positives out of it.'

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