The Board considered a report of the Strategic Director Enterprise, Community and Resources, which outlined the proposal to introduce waiting restrictions on parts of Park Road, Highlands Road, Campbell Avenue and Heath Grove in Runcorn near to Runcorn Hill Park, in order to address parking congestion.
Following the recent improvements to Runcorn Hill Park, several complaints had been received about problems caused by parked vehicles from residents living on adjacent roads. These complaints had been received either directly from residents, through Ward Councillors or from PCSO’s and were in regard to:
· Congestion caused by vehicles double parking (i.e. parking on both sides of the road) which could block access for residents and for emergency vehicles;
· Dangers to children crossing from the café to the park (because of double parking); and
· Blocked accesses to residential properties.
Following advertisement of the proposed waiting restrictions in September 2015, 15 objections were received from residents of Highlands Road and members of Runcorn & District Scale Model Boats Group. Subsequently, Officers met with some of the residents from Highlands Road to explain the proposals and discuss their objections. Details of the points raised by those residents who objected to the proposal and Officers responses were detailed in the report.
In respect of the 8 objections received from the Boats Group, it was reported that these were mainly objecting to reduced availability of parking near the lake as some members had mobility issues and their access to the lake would be restricted. However, it was noted that additional parking was to be made available with access from Heath Road South that could be used by members of the Model Boat Group and if the members had a blue badge they could also stop on the double yellow lines for up to through hours.
It was noted that Plans were currently being drawn up for an improved and expanded car parking facility at the north end of Highlands Road close to the original Runcorn Hill Park car park. Subject to funding, the additional facilities could be in place by the Summer of 2018.
In accordance with Standing Order No.34 (9), the following public questions were submitted to the Board by email:
QUESTION 1 - Mr Higginson
Within the document the following statement is made “The Old Car Park has been closed and is only suitable for large events …… due to poor visibility entering and leaving the car park”.
This car park has been operational for many, many years going back to my childhood in Runcorn. Its layout has not been radically changed after its refurbishment. It can accommodate of the order of 25/30 vehicles. Its closure has resulted in these vehicles being forced to park elsewhere, thus worsening the situation.
The provision of the parking restrictions on Park Road will result in the side of the road where the entrance is being clear of vehicles, thus even improving the visibility from what is was previously.
Can the Council confirm what their rational is in coming to the decision not to re-pen this car park? In particular I am interested in knowing what the sections of any which Statutory Legislation, Recommendations or other Legislation were considered upon which this decision was made.
As part of the Heritage Lottery Funded restoration and development project at Runcorn Hill Park, the area bounded by Park Road and Highlands Road had been re-modelled in order to create a visual and physical linkage between the woodland and quarry area, new Café, play areas, model boating lake and Heath Playing Fields. The new Café has become the Park’s central attraction. Retaining the original small car park on Park Road was not in keeping with the main aim of improving the Park landscape, and it would not have located the car parking close enough to the new Cafe.
The former car park area has been retained for occasional use at large events or for maintenance visits when access can be controlled, but designed in a way that retains a ‘green’ uninterrupted view across the park for most days of the year. This was necessary to balance the amount of building/hard surfaces constructed on the Park. Also the access to the car park would not provide adequate visibility for vehicles entering/leaving it due to the large trees in the area, which are of aesthetic value.
The new car park adjacent to the new Café also provided more parking spaces than were available in the former car park on Park Road, and was sign posted directing visitors when arriving at Runcorn Hill Park.
The following visitor parking is readily available at Runcorn Hill:
Café / Centre Car Park 35 spaces* Open 9am- 6pm /7 days
Highlands Road /LNR Car Park 25 spaces* Open 24 hrs
Highlands Road /old pub car park 20 spaces* Open 24 hrs
Heath Playing Fields Car Park 28 spaces* Open 9am – 6pm / peak times**
* spaces are estimated minimum numbers dependant on driver parking
**school holiday periods
Why is was the original small car park to remain closed when visibility on Park Road would be improved with the introduction of the proposed wait restrictions?
In response the Board was advised that although landscape works had been carried out to improve visibility, retaining the original small car park on Park Road was not in keeping with the main aim of improving the Park landscape and the redevelopment of Runcorn Hill.
QUESTION 2 – Mr Hayman
Within the document it is stated “Alterations to the changing room car park will add 20 spaces and will be open at peak times (School holidays and weekends).” At present, when the football pitches are in use the existing car park is full and vehicles overflow onto Heath Road, the access road to the changing rooms, Park Road and it has even been noted that cars have been parked on the field itself. Therefore the provision of these additional spaces will have minimal improvement on the existing parking situation.
Why is this car park only going to open at certain times and not on weekdays, when it can be used by visitors to the Park? There has been the suggestion but forward by the Model Boat Group that this car park can be further extended to accommodate its own Subscribers, with the additional suggestion that our Group would be willing to help with labour and some small financial donation towards the work involved.
It was noted that the proposed new changing room car park would only be open at peak times due to concerns regarding potential unauthorised vehicle access to the park. As part of the Heritage Lottery Funded restoration and development project at Runcorn Hill Park, retaining the original small car park on Park Road was not considered as it would not be in keeping with the main aim of improving the Park landscape.
Why the original car park could not be extended and controlled by Boat Group members?
In response the Board was advised that it would be detrimental to the improvements carried out at the park area to extend and reopen the original car park.
QUESTION 3 – Mr Gardner
In Section 3.10 of the above Item it is stated “…….are not grounds for objections and cannot be considered” It is also stated that it is thought that the impact of the restrictions on the Model Boat Group will be minimal.
Can the Council explain how they have arrived at these two conclusions when it has been clearly stated within our correspondence/objections that any such restrictions could have serious implications to the continuing viability of our Group.
Addendum:- only 4/5 of our Group are Blue Badge holders.
Whilst we appreciate the difficulties highlighted in the question, these are not valid objections to a Traffic Regulation Order. However, additional parking spaces are being made available near the boating lake.
Members were advised that in addition to the three written questions submitted in advance of the meeting, a letter from a local resident was also received in support of the waiting restrictions proposed.
Arising from the discussion, it was agreed that the in light of the comments regarding the potential impact on the Boating Group of the waiting restrictions, Officers would investigate further proposals to provide the Group with access to both the original car park and Heath Road South car park. In addition, the Board would be provided with an update on the outcome of the Officers investigation and recommendations.
RESOLVED: That the proposal to make an Order to introduce at “At Any Time” waiting restrictions on parts of Park Road, Highlands Road, Campbell Avenue and Heath Park Grove in Runcorn as shown in Appendix ‘B’ and defined in Appendix ‘C’ be supported and that the report be submitted to the Executive Board for its consideration.