Long-awaited plans to install pay on exit (POE) parking in Fleet’s Victoria Road car park are finally afoot.

Hart District Council’s cabinet has agreed to allocate £90,000 of developer contributions to pay for the scheme.

The idea goes back to February last year when the full council agreed to look into introducing ‘pay on foot’ parking.

Last summer Fleet Future undertook a consultation exercise about what people wanted in its new Town Plan and one recommendation was for ‘pay as you leave’ parking to be introduced to encourage people to stay longer in the town.

John Elson, Hart’s head of technical services, said officers have since been investigating options to remove pay and display parking from Fleet car parks and replace it with POE parking.

“Having done this there are only two car parks where this can sensibly be considered, these being the Church Road and Victoria Road car parks,” he added.

Mr Elson said that while the Church Road Car Park is probably best suited for POE, installing it in this car park is not recommended at the moment because of the uncertainty surrounding the possible redevelopment of the site.

He added that while the layout and size of the Victoria Road car park was ‘not ideal’, it is proposed that POE could be installed on a trial basis.

Hart’s cabinet has agreed that a task and finish group should be set up, consisting of two representatives from Fleet Future, two from Fleet Town Council, the cabinet members for Fleet and the environment, the head of technical services and the parking manager.

The group will consider and identify solutions to address the operational problems anticipated with the installation of POE and prepare and agree a business case for its installation taking into account the cost to the council as well as the benefits to businesses, shoppers and residents.

It will then report back to the cabinet in July.

Fleet Business Partnership chairman Kevin Whibley has welcomed the move.

“This is great news for Fleet and it is my belief that it will encourage more usage of car parks and stop people rushing back to their cars as their time is up,” he said.

“If priced correctly it should see an increase in usage which should absorb any increased running costs.”

Mr Whibley said the great thing about pay on exit parking was that drivers being given overstay penalty notices would become a thing of the past.

“I think this is a great step forward and opens up lots of opportunities for the future,” he added.

“At quiet times it could be possible to offer periods of free parking to encourage greater usage of the town and its car parks, and I welcome this move greatly.”