Fleet rail parking plan 'fails to address problem'By Stephen Lloyd
November 15, 2012
LONG awaited £6.2 million improvements planned for Fleet railway station do not go far enough, campaigners have warned.
Hart District Council’s cabinet is set to consider a report that recommends allocating £300,000 of developer contributions towards the massive improvement project planned for completion by April 2014.
The improvements include new station buildings with an enlarged booking hall, waiting room, toilet facilities, platform canopies and improved forecourt.
There will also be a new, covered footbridge with lifts suitable for people with disabilities, 150 extra parking spaces created by a new single-decked car park above the existing ‘town centre side’ car park and 48 extra spaces for bikes in a secure and improved compound.
However, campaign group Fleet And Crookham Environment Is Threatened (FACE-IT) is concerned the improvements do not go far enough.
“All station users know that there is fierce competition for parking after 7.30am every weekday,” said a spokesman.
“Hampshire County Council’s final Fleet Station Travel Plan (STP) and the investment proposal now clearly recognise the parking and access issues for people who are unable to walk, cycle, share a car or take a bus, but do not go far enough to resolving the current problems, never mind the additional pressure that will come from the occupants of the new housing proposed in the Local Plan.”
The spokesman said around 2,500 people arrive at the station every day, with around 1,450 arriving during the peak period between 7am and 9am. He added a little more than half (1,325) arrive by car, with some 700 cars parked at or near the station by those who drive themselves or are car sharers, while another 525 cars are used to drop people off at the station.
“Some people drive further miles to Winchfield, just to be able to find a parking space without having to face the parking problems in Fleet,” added the spokesman.
“Some vehicles being used to deliver people to the station often make two round trips per day (1,050 journeys), adding to the congestion.
“With only 347 car parking places, and a true demand that is probably already in excess of 800 spaces, the car park fills quickly and by 8am competition for spaces is bitterly fierce.
“By providing the proposed 150 more parking spaces, FACE-IT believe that daily car journeys for those currently being dropped off at the station could probably be reduced by 300, thus delivering a significant and welcome contribution to reduced road traffic and congestion.”
They added the plans ‘fail to address the full extent of the car parking problem’ and said there would still be an immediate shortfall of about 300 spaces, with the problem worsening as the population increases. The plans represent a good first step but more parking is still required.”
Mel Kendall, Hampshire's executive member for transport, said the Fleet STP will be used to guide the delivery of transport projects in and around the station.
He added the travel plan should help key partners such as Network Rail, South West Trains, the county council, Hart District Council and the major bus operator co-ordinate infrastructure and investment decision-making in the area surrounding the station.
“Not to adopt the Station Travel Plan would demonstrate a lack of commitment to work with the rail industry and others to improve the journey experience for those travelling to, through and from Fleet station,” said Cllr Kendall.
He said he noted more parking was needed at the station, but that such an improvement would need to be carried out in line with measures that protect the neighbouring site of special scientific interest.