Council to investigate pay-and-display built with no planning permission
- Credit: Photo: Matthew Nixon
A council has launched an investigation into a pay-and-display car park after people and businesses complained of 'unfair' fees and charges.
East Suffolk Council will investigate whether the Winelodge car park, on Bridge Road, Lowestoft, was built without necessary planning permissions.
A spokesman for the council said: "East Suffolk Council has not received an application for the site and therefore our planning enforcement team will investigate further."
The car park, owned by SLS properties and managed by National Parking Enforcement, has been heavily criticised for driving away customers from businesses, as well as for 'harsh' charges which have reportedly seen drivers fined up to £100 for simply driving through the car park without parking.
One business owner said: "It's been like that for a month. It was free for about three months and now there are machines. We lose customers because we don't have parking."
The council will now investigate whether the recently installed pay-and-display machines, signage, and cameras were placed on the site unlawfully.
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The East Suffolk Council spokesman continued: "A change of parking designation from free to charging does not in itself require planning permission, as there is no material change in the use of the land. However, any physical features required to enable fee charging may require consent, including machines and signage.
"Beyond that, the Council is not in a position to comment on how a private car park is managed and operated, or any parking charges which may apply."
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The council's investigation aims to establish whether planning permission and advertisement consent is required in this specific case.
If SLS Properties and National Parking Enforcement did require planning permission and advertisement consent, then the landowner and company which erected the equipment will also need to apply for new planning permission.
It is not clear whether those who have been fined would be entitled to refunds if the machines were found to be unlawful.
Speaking last week, Jonathan Lecaille, National Parking Enforcement managing director, said: "We do not own the car park and simply manage it on the owner's behalf."
Attempts to contact SLS Properties have been unsuccessful.