New plans mooted for Holt’s ‘desperately’ needed car park
The long running hunt for extra car parking at Holt has moved to a new site, with the current plans locked in stalemate.
Hopes for a privately-run 350-space off Thornage Road have been in limbo for months, frustrated by problems over a strip of access land.
Now a joint county and district council initiative has put another site in the frame, just off the bypass.
But the two-acre site east of the Hempstead Road would need planning permission and a new roundabout, so the solution could also be some way off.
The site is owned by Norfolk County Council, and is next to land earmarked for future housing.
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Council cabinet member Cliff Jordan said: "Holt badly needs more car parking capacity, and with uncertainty about the private proposal off Thornage Road, the county council and district council have been looking at other options.
'The land south of the bypass seems to be the best of these. It is already owned by the county council and has access to the town centre using the pedestrian underpass.
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'For cars, access from the bypass would have to be from a new roundabout, and it might be possible to share an access with the one needed to serve adjoining land that is allocated for housing and mixed use development.'
North Norfolk District Council leader Helen Eales added: "Holt's popularity among shoppers has put tremendous strain on existing car parking.
'Hunting for a parking space has become frustrating for drivers and bad for the environment. There's no doubt that a new car park would support the local economy, as well as improving safety and air quality in the town centre.
"This site off the bypass seems to have potential. In principle the district council would be willing to work with the county council to develop and operate a car park from the site, although of course this proposal is still at a very early stage.
'Planning permission would have to be obtained, and we would need to be sure that pedestrians use the underpass, and don't try to cross the bypass."
Bryan Payne, Holt town council chairman, said any scheme that would help the town's dire parking situation was good but raised concerns about funding.
'The question is really who's going to pay for it? It's fine having a piece of land but somebody's got to build it,' he said. 'Whereas with Thornage Road the landowner's going to build it, so that's a consideration.'
The car park saga at Holt stretches back a decade, with previous attempts to find a new council car park drawing a blank before local landowner Graham Chapman promoted the Thornage Road plan.
After overcoming planning opposition on the edge of the Glaven Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and downsizing from 500 to 350 spaces, the scheme has stalled and currently sees a stand-off and war of words between Mr Chapman and Mr Jordan over a strip of land that would provide a walkway into town.
The impasse led for calls at the last town council meeting for an independent body to try to break the stalemate and resolve the issue for the popular town which traders say customers are driving away from when they cannot find parking spaces.