Council’s town centre car parks are south London’s most expensive

December 21, 2012 by  

Burney Street Car Park

GREENWICH town centre now has the most expensive council-run car parks in the whole of south London, research by Greenwich.co.uk has found.

The council almost doubled charges in its three town centre car parks at Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich Park Row and Burney Street in 2011.

Visitors now pay a minimum of £2.50 an hour to park. Councils in neighbouring Bexley and Lewisham charge just £1.00 and £1.40 respectively.

Greenwich Council intends to raise its parking charges again to £2.70 an hour next year.

Use of Greenwich town centre car parks has dropped by around 40% as a result of the new charges, with just 13% of visitors now coming into town by car.

Visitors also spend far less than in other nearby town centres. A study by TfL found that people spend an average of just £20 per visit in Greenwich compared to £31 per visit to Woolwich, £33 per visit to Bexleyheath, £39 per visit to Bromley and £48 per visit to Croydon.

Just 26% of those surveyed say that they come to Greenwich to shop. This is lower than any of the other 14 London town centres in the study.

Our research found that it is now cheaper to park in parts of central London than Greenwich, with Southwark Council charging just £1.50 an hour for its car parks.

Only one other council-run car park has a higher hourly charge in South London. Buckner Road car park in Brixton has an hourly charge of £3. However, unlike Greenwich, visitors are able to pay to park for less than one hour, with prices starting at just 20p.

Research by the Conservative group on Greenwich Council found that the number of parking hours paid for in Greenwich town centre car parks dropped between 37 and 42 per cent since the charges were raised.

Meanwhile parking revenues have only increased by relatively modest amounts. In Greenwich Park Row car park, the council have increased takings by just 10% despite raising charges by over 90%.

Greenwich council admitted earlier this year that the new charges have raised less than half of the extra revenue they expected.

The Leader of the Conservative group on Greenwich Council Spencer Drury said today the cost of parking was hurting local businesses:

“Raising parking charges in Greenwich has clearly reduced the number of people travelling to the town centre by car. Many people I speak to are actively choosing to go elsewhere as a result of the expense of parking in Greenwich, for example with many watching films in Bluewater rather than the wonderful Picture House because it costs an extra £10 to park in Burney Street as opposed to nothing out of town.

"With the Olympics reducing car visits still further, the Council must not put charges up any more in 2013, as I think any potential gains in revenue from parking will be lost with lower business rates as shops lie empty."

The latest census showed that car ownership has dramatically dropped in London over the past ten years, with many more people now using public transport.

However, TfL found that fewer people use the bus to visit Greenwich than all but one other London town centre, with visitors highlighting “less traffic” as the main priority for improvement in the area.

The council today defended the increased charges, saying that they “compare very reasonably with other key destinations in London.”

A spokesperson told Greenwich.co.uk:

“Greenwich Town Centre is in a World Heritage Site and is one of London's biggest tourist destinations. We therefore have to very carefully manage parking within the town centre and part of this is to set charges accordingly. Parking charges within the town compare very reasonably with other key destinations in London.

"The town centre also benefits from excellent public transport links - DLR, rail, river and bus access, which we would encourage residents and visitors to use to travel to our renowned shops and attractions.”

Asked whether they will proceed with plans to raise charges again in April, the spokesperson said they would be “happy to review” the charges and “discuss the implications with traders.”

Comments

8 Responses to “Council’s town centre car parks are south London’s most expensive”

  1. Fatty Fatty BumBum on December 21st, 2012 4:39 pm

    Its so true that people I know have stopped going to Greenwich so frequently compared to a few years ago. The parking is one issue, but even more so is the multiplication of boring chain and poor independent food places and the lack of decent shops compared to say East Dulwich, Bromley or Clapham. Greenwich now seems to attract mainly tourists with Londoners visiting just a few of times a year for a wander rather than frequently to shop. It doesn’t have any major stores or funky bars at night and there is only so much market shopping you can do. Shame that new town centre developments seem to be exclusively residential or education led as opposed to an interesting retail centre which would increase the towns appeal. Maybe the new Waitrose development will bring some funky little night time spots and some decent shops, like a couple of clothes shops, into the area. All I am asking for is somewhere to buy a pair of jeans!

    Adam Bienkov Reply:

    @FFBB The TfL study found that after “less traffic”, the next most important area for improvement to Greenwich highlighted by visitors was “better range of shops” so yes that probably is a big factor.

  2. Darryl on December 21st, 2012 5:46 pm

    “Maybe the new Waitrose development will bring some funky little night time spots.”

    Nope – the residents would complain.

    I don’t have much sympathy over high parking costs, after all, bus fares have rocketed in recent years – but the council’s deluding itself if it thinks Greenwich should cost more to park in if you want to pick up a couple of bits because it’s a world heritage site.

    For most non-tourists, Greenwich is no more a “key destination” than Lewisham, Catford, or Deptford, no matter how much the council wraps itself in its “Royal Greenwich” branding.

    Not quite sure what the council’s done to improve public transport in the 13 years since the DLR opened, either.

  3. Rob Powell on December 21st, 2012 6:17 pm

    Worth also remembering that while parking is set to go up again in Greenwich next year, Woolwich town centre now has 3 hours free parking at the new Tesco. Parking for 3 hours at a Greenwich car park from April will cost £8.10

  4. Reality Check on December 22nd, 2012 12:51 am

    Rob has hit the nail on the head. Greenwich council has little interest in anywhere outside Woolwich Town centre, to the detriment of Greenwich town centre and Eltham town centre. It is trying to pull Woolwich by the bootstraps out if its mediocre malaise to become the focus of Greenwich.

    Just another example of the social engineering this council exhibits at its core.

    Try as they might to push people toward pubic transport, there will always be a section of the community who, as is there right, wish to travel by car. They are no less important generally, and it could be argued, more important to local traders.

    Greenwich council have lost sight of the ball. Strong and healthy businesses are at the heart of any community. Kill them and you kill a community spirit.

    Darryl Reply:

    Funny thing, the council and its “town centres”. I remember in the 80s/early 90s, the council was completely Woolwich/Plumstead-centric; then things broadened out a bit under Len Duvall; and then under Roberts it became all Greenwich/Woolwich/Eltham, with everywhere else completely neglected (have a peek at poor old Abbey Wood, if you’re ever out that that).

    Now their sights do seem to be narrowing as they try to jump-start Woolwich again with some dangerous Tesco therapy.

    The main trouble is that few of the senior hands running the council actually live in or near Greenwich – Maureen O’Mara’s the only one that I can think of – so I suspect they really do fall for this “tourist destination” stuff rather than thinking of it as a place to live, work, eat and drink (unless you’re cleaning a hotel room on minimum wage).

    There were a couple of surreal exchanges about the borough’s town centres at the last council meeting on Wednesday, involving Denise “foot tunnels” Hyland, whose brief is almost the size of John Prescott’s old one under Blair (and she’s about as good as it as he was). If this area had a proper local newspaper, instead of relying on this site and people doing it in their spare time, these would all be great stories.

    One was from a Tory – think it was Blackheath Westcombe’s Alex Wilson – on what the council was doing to mitigate the effects on Woolwich of the new Tesco. Hyland then went into a rant about the coalition, ending on how she wanted to see a Labour government returned. She then went into some misty-eyed recollection of seeing the (still unfilled) Woolwich Equitable building lit up with the new council crest, and spoke of how she thought all three of the council’s town centres were “special”, like she was talking about kids that’d just been caught shoplifting from the greengrocers.

    Then one of the Eltham Tories bemoaned the big retailers’ cutting the ranges in their SE9 stories. Hyland replied that “the retailers knew their trade best” and it wasn’t the council’s job to intervene…

    Sadly, these are the people running the show. And without proper scrutiny, it’ll carry on this way.

  5. Parker on December 22nd, 2012 8:31 am

    The parking meters are slightly cheaper and you can pay incrementally, 20p per 5 minutes.

  6. John Fahy on December 23rd, 2012 12:32 pm

    I do not share the pessimistic views of those who seek to rubbish the Council in its determination to improve all of the Town Centres. of course some might think,well he would say that as he is involved in the process. However we do not always get things right. If the Town Centres are to increase footfall development opportunities are critical. Tesco is just one element of that. Three hour free car parking will help but the Council should and must have a review of its parking charges. Stratford City was charging a maximum five pounds a day over the Christmas period,with the first two hous free. There needs to be a balanced approach to parking charges but should not be about pricing people out of the Borough but going somewhere else to shop. Eltham Town Centre with no charges is not improving footfall. I suspect the debate will rage in the coming months.

    The loss of jobs in the Arsenal in the sixties was a body blow for Woolwich and continues to suffer. Why is it wrong to maximise the growth of Woolwich. It is a cause that I fully support. Gradual improvement in the coming months and years will see significant progress. Look around to see the developments taking place.

    I suspect there will be the usual sniping from the sidelines. If individuals or political partis think we are getting it wrong. Stand up and have your say. Happy to engage in the debate.