Parking plans need to be carefully thought out

6:06pm Wednesday 14th May 2014

CLLR Dr McKeown has asked for opinions about whether the Brown Street car park could be transformed into a coach park to boost our tourist industry.

It seems strange to me that the proposed redevelopment of The Maltings doesn't retain the established Millstream coach park.

The many visitors to the city and the cathedral would continue to arrive in a discreet area but could avail themselves of the new shops and facilities the new development will offer.

The 2015 Magna Carta exhibition will need extra coach parking.

Perhaps Brown Street could be temporarily used for that.

John Cutland, Wilton

I WRITE as one of the Salisbury City Guides, a group of 23 self-employed professional Blue Badge guides working in the area with wide, practical experience of coach tourism.

We regularly meet groups at the coach park to guide them through the city and the cathedral.

We are very willing to share our expertise in finding a solution to coach parking issues in Salisbury.

I should explain that Wiltshire Council, having signed away Millstream coach park to Stanhope to be developed for housing as part of the Maltings and Central car park area (subject to planning permission of course), now has the task of cobbling together alternative provision for our visitors arriving by coach, in the hope of retaining Salisbury's Coach Friendly status awarded by the Coach Tourism Council.

They have selected Brown Street Car Park as a short stay coach park, with coaches then to go on to Britford park and ride site, where there are hopes of creating facilities for drivers.

The route to Brown Street would be up Exeter Street, Catherine Street, right into Milford Street and right again into Brown Street.

This movement would then be repeated when the coach returns to pick up passengers.

The 2015 Magna Carta celebrations at the cathedral will very likely increase this traffic.

The present coach park is used around 6,000 times each year.

That’s a lot of people coming to spend, and any shrinkage in this would be bad for local businesses.

We will need to work hard on our welcome, especially as the longer time now needed at Stonehenge threatens to shave time off Salisbury visits.

Compare this with the present coach park at Millstream.

Coaches slip in discreetly off the ring road and stay there, avoiding vehicle movement in the city centre.

The drivers like this and so far we get the message (because we meet and speak to the drivers) that they are less than keen on the idea of going up to Britford, whatever their company directors say.

The general public does not see the coaches, even though at certain times the 23 bays are full.

At some times of year or day there are no coaches, as one might expect.

How would people react to seeing Brown Street empty in the evening and no car parking permitted?

Could it be available for cars after 6pm?

Millstream has a refreshment kiosk and pub, a room for drivers, and most importantly, toilets.

These are quite old and need to be refurbished, but are vital.

It has been suggested that portaloos are put in Brown Street.

What kind of place is this which spends £75m on a new development and presents visitors with portable toilets?

Sadly there seems to be little chance of retaining Millstream as the handing over of it happened when those who should have been looking after our interests were asleep, or did not care too much what happened in Salisbury, and this site is now part of the Core Strategy for south Wiltshire.

Stanhope must be very pleased to have been handed such a prime city centre site for housing, as that is where they make their money, together with the rents for a long period from retail property they build.

Perhaps we could ask them to put in a nice toilet block in Brown Street for us, as a gesture of appreciation?

Helena Wright, registered Blue Badge Guide, Salisbury

SEVERAL letters in last week’s Journal are linked - in particular those of Ann Horwood and Cllr Dr Helena McKeown.

Mrs Horwood wrote about the unpleasant state of the city’s public lavatories, mentioning how important a good first impression is to a visitor.

The state of the Millstream Approach coach park facilities has been a problem for a long time - despite frequent reports to Wiltshire Council, little or nothing is done.

This could be because, unknown to most people, this essential parking place for coaches is due to be closed when the Maltings/central car park development takes place.

The reason Dr McKeown is raising the question of using Brown Street as a coach park is that coaches will still need to park if planning permission is given to close Millstream Approach.

Incoming visitors add considerably to the economy of Salisbury.

These visitors need and expect to arrive at a clean and tidy coach park which provides good facilities for themselves and the coach-driver.

I have been told that no budget provision has been made for lavatories at Brown Street, which will in any case have far fewer spaces than Millstream Approach.

It has even been suggested, apparently seriously, that if those arriving by coach really do need a lavatory, then perhaps a temporary toilet would be suitable.

Now that the bus station has closed, there is already a great deal of extra congestion in the city’s narrow streets which would be exacerbated by coaches having to park or drop-off in Brown Street.

National Express coaches are also using Millstream Approach now, as are coaches taking local people on days out or on holidays.

To sum up, we tourist guides and many others would like the developers, Stanhope Plc, to reconsider, and to include an upgraded Millstream Approach coach park in their plans.

All coach passengers are a lot of potential customers for the proposed new shops and cafés.

Penny May Registered Blue Badge Guide Salisbury n I WRITE in response to Cllr Dr McKeown's letter (Postbag, May 8) regarding Brown Street car park being transformed into a coach park to boost the tourism industry.

As agreed with Cllr Clewer, there are currently plans to increase motorcycle parking in this area.

This is to replace the motorcycle spaces lost from the Market Place and New Canal.

The Wiltshire Local Transport Plan 2011 - 2026 published in March 2014 states that as motorcycles account for five per cent of all traffic then five per cent of parking spaces should be for motorcycles.

For once logic appears to prevail at County Hall.

Currently we are still waiting for this parking provision, which should have been completed last year, but I have been assured the implementation is imminent.

The aforementioned transport plan recognises that motorcycles bring reduced congestion as they take up less space on the road and also require less space to park.

It has been estimated that motorcycle tourism results in around £570m being spent on accommodation, food and drink in the UK.

This was illustrated by the bike show held recently in the Market Place by Salisbury Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), with some local traders reporting increases of 25 per cent over their usual Sunday takings.

Motorcyclists came from all over the south to attend the show and spend their money, and we hope that a good few of them will make a return visit and continue to boost the local economy.

If Brown Street car park were to become a coach park then new plans for motorcycle parking will need to be drawn up, effectively writing off the money already spent.

Nick Hancock, Salisbury MAG

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