[T]wo additional car parks could be available to motorists in Kendal after South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) identified sites to increase parking capacity in the town.
Parking on sites at Canal Head and off Parkside Road would be available to all drivers, creating up to 86 extra spaces.
The council is also investigating options for further parking to be added close to the town centre, with discussions already being held with the owners of at least one other potential site.
At Canal Head the council has reached an agreement with Kendal Snowsports Club that will enable the club to run its car park for low-cost public pay and display, adding 40-45 spaces Monday to Friday close to the town centre.
The council will carry out some work to mark out the car park and install a payment machine and signage.
The club was keen to open up the car park to the wider community and will use the revenue generated to help cover club costs and develop its facilities.
The parcel of land off Parkside Road, close to the canal, is owned by the council and SLDC intends to create parking there, subject to planning, for 41 vehicles.
SLDC councillors pledged to create additional parking capacity in Kendal after a decision was taken in September to close common land at New Road to vehicles after safety, legal and insurance risks were identified with allowing the unregulated parking on there to continue.
Members recognised the closure of the common land to vehicles could put extra pressure on existing parking provision in Kendal.
To mitigate impact on residential side streets from the displacement of vehicles from New Road, and following representations from users of New Road and the business community, a package of interim parking options – including £1 all-day parking in the Westmorland Shopping Centre – was approved for existing council-operated car parks to help alleviate these pressures.
It was also agreed that additional parking was required longer-term and investigations started to look at the feasibility of creating a large new car park on land the council owns at Beezon Fields.
Councillor Graham Vincent, SLDC portfolio holder for the economy, which includes responsibility for assets such as car parks, explained: “It has become clear that the work required to develop a car park at Beezon Fields would be too expensive and problematic, mainly due to its difficult access, so reluctantly we have had to rule that option out.
“We always knew this was a possibility, but considered it was worth exploring as that is a large piece of land that the council already owns, in a convenient location close to the town centre, where we could potentially have included coach and RV parking as well as car parking.
“We continued, however, to investigate other options should Beezon Fields be ruled out, and I’m delighted to say that we’ve managed to bring forward these two sites at Canal Head and Parkside Road.
“It is hoped that the Snowsports Club car park could be available as soon as March next year and is a real win-win, as it will help the club as well as providing more parking capacity near the town centre.
“These two car parks would add more than 80 further spaces in the town, which is at least 12 more spaces than we could accommodate at New Road if the common land was de-registered and developed as a safe and legal car park.
“But that isn’t the end of the search for more car parking in Kendal and we have an ambition to create even more spaces. We are still looking at other sites, with one more currently being investigated, this time at the northern end of Kendal.
“These things do take time and lots of negotiation, especially when the land is in private ownership, so we are pleased to have identified two sites already and have one of them ready to go early in the New Year.
“People have said to me that we should have had these car parks ready before we closed New Road common to vehicles, but I’ve reminded them that we took the decision to close the common to vehicles on safety, insurance and legal grounds and had to act quickly to address those risks once they were identified.
“We acted swiftly to put in place a package of parking options to address the immediate issue of displaced vehicles looking for alternative parking, and then set about the task of identifying options for creating additional parking.
“The closure of the common to vehicles has proved to be a controversial issue and some people have expressed some very strong opinions.
“But I do hope that our wider community can appreciate that we acted in the best interests of public safety over the closure, are now looking to create a genuine community asset on that land and we have worked extremely hard to address the parking issues with the cheaper and more flexible parking fees and now bringing forward extra car parking for the town.’’