Plan to build a multi-storey car park next to Canterbury West train station will not be put on hold.
City councillors last night agreed to push on with the controversial 370-space £9 million scheme – despite significant opposition to it.
Members of the Conservative council’s property and regeneration committee were responding to calls from the Canterbury forum of councillors and members of the public to postpone construction and look at other ways of using the space around the city’s busiest station.
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No date has yet been set for the start of building, but the scheme has drawn sharp criticism from clean air campaigners who argue it will attract vehicles to the already polluted and congested St Dunstan’s Street area.
They have called for an integrated transport hub to be created at the station containing links between trains, buses and bicycles.
Opposition Lib Dem and Labour groups have also taken stances against the car park as next May’s Canterbury City Council’s elections loom.
At last night’s property and regeneration committee, members agreed not to defer the Station Road West scheme and instead would “ask [council] officers to produce a conceptual diagram explaining how an integrated transport hub would work going forward”.
The authority argues that the multi-storey offers potential to move in this direction by creating “16 additional cycle racks in a secure enclosure, cycle hire docking stations, and a 6m wide footway all the way from the station to St Dunstans Street”.
A report by Ian Brown, the authority’s director of development, went on: “It is important to plan for future rail passenger increases and to investigate ways to improve transport integration and we know that Network Rail is forecasting a 3& annual increase in use of the station.
“One potential option that is being explored is for Network Rail to lease parking spaces on the upper deck of the proposed multi-storey car park for their season ticket holders.
“This would enable their small surface car park to be more effectively used for other purposes such as: increased taxi provision, additional cycle storage, bus improvements as well as enhanced passenger/ticketing facilities.”
Mr Brown’s report added that further discussions with Network Rail and bus firm Stagecoach would take place.
It said: “These will focus on those opportunities resulting from the new multi-storey car park and the additional capacity it brings forward and the potential release of station parking for new facilities.”