by Sian Pettman
Before it embarks on its plans to construct the multi-storey car park in Station Road West, I would urge Canterbury City Council to stop and reflect on the unintended consequences of its actions.
One such consequence – one which deeply concerns me – is the fact that the scale of the car park will make it impossible to create a properly integrated public transport hub in Station Road West.
Such a hub would link train arrivals and departures with a well coordinated bus and taxi service. It should also provide decent facilities for those arriving at or departing from the station by bicycle or foot.
Such a hub is essential if we are to limit the congestion which will inevitably result from the construction of thousands of new houses, many of which will be commuter homes, in and around the city over the coming years.
But a multi-modal transport hub will require space. And that space will simply not be available if the multi-storey car park is built as it is currently envisaged.
An integrated transport hub needs waiting bays for buses, and a vastly improved bus service, so that passengers getting off at Canterbury West can seamlessly continue their journey to the city centre, the city’s suburbs or villages in the surrounding rural area.
The hub will also need to provide room for an overflow taxi rank and safe storage facilities for a considerable number of bicycles, not least the electric bicycles that the 4000+ residents of Mountfield Park have been promised.
It should also provide decent waiting facilities for those meeting visitors or relatives at the station.
The current proposal for the multi-storey car park will skew future transport choices disproportionately in favour of the car. As such, it is a reflection of the Council’s atomised approach to “regenerating” Station Road West which is looking at the area in a segmented manner.
What is needed is a coherent, integrated and progressive vision which takes us forward into the 21st century.
Not one which harks back to the heady days of the multi-storey in the 1960s.
Such a vision needs to implement the council’s transport aspirations of facilitating a “modal shift”, not shy away from it.
It is not too late for the council to reconsider. Not yet, at any rate.
Sian Pettman is a community activist, anti-litter campaigner and co-ordinator of the Friends of Kingsmead Field. She lives with her husband, Simon, and three children in Market Way.