Parish Council update on the Plough car park site

Parish Council Update on the Plough Car Park Site – 14th October 2017

The Parish Council has applied for planning permission to develop the whole of the old Plough car park site as a community car park for 21 cars, with a garage for two cars and retained garden at the rear. Parking for up to 8 bicycles is also being provided. A plan of what is proposed is included with this article. The East Herts planning reference is 3/17/2317/FUL. You can access full details via the Planning Section of the East Herts web site. A clickable link to this is provided HERE.

In 2014 Greene King sold the east part of the land along with The Plough pub to the existing owners of the Old Post Office Tea Room. Following the sale, Greene King made several planning applications for the creation of a residential plot on the western part of the site which they had retained, leaving the eastern part of the site for tightly configured parking for the pub. The Parish Council objected to each of the planning applications on a number of grounds.

Although planning permission for the erection of a new dwelling was granted in September 2015 the Parish Council’s view continued to be that the whole site should remain as car parking in order to reduce on-street parking, congestion and risks to both traffic and pedestrians around the cross roads. The owners of The Plough and Tea Room support this view. The parking layout for 11 cars for the pub for which Greene King were given planning permission doesn’t provide easily accessible spaces and was likely to discourage potential users, thus increase on-street parking near the cross roads. It would have been deep and narrow, and the risk of unsavoury use was a real concern.

The west part with its planning consent was sold to a potential developer who has now agreed to sell it to the Parish Council for village parking. The owners of The Plough and Tea Room have in turn agreed to lease their part of the site to the Parish Council to enable it to provide a community car park for the village on the combined site. Parking will be regulated to ensure that 11 spaces are available for users of The Plough pub and The Tea Room during their opening hours.

The Parish Council has been able to progress this scheme thanks to a very generous benefactor who is covering the balance of the costs not being shared with the owners of The Plough and Tea Room. There are some legal costs that it is right for the Parish Council to fund but otherwise there will be no call on the precept to fund the capital cost of the scheme. The management of the car park will rest with the Parish Council in consultation with the owners of The Plough and Tea Room and the running costs shared between them and the Parish Council. The latters part will be funded via the precept.

The garage that will be located on the site is being provided as lifetime parking for the benefactor. Its use will eventually revert to the Parish Council. Storage of fete equipment and the like is an obvious future use when ownership eventually reverts.

Although it is difficult to predict, it is anticipated that the community car park will be used in the following ways:

  • Short term visits to the village shop – The proposed car park will be visible, easily accessible and generously dimensioned for ease of movement, and this will help to encourage off-street parking around the cross roads, whilst also potentially encouraging more custom for the shop.
  • Disabled parking – There is currently no parking within this part of the village for disabled people. The proposal would therefore provide safe, off-street disabled user parking that would encourage more inclusive custom to the businesses around the cross roads.
  • Pub & Tea Room parking – Users of these businesses would be more likely to park off-street as the proposed 21 space car park would be more visible and easier to use than the smaller one approved in 2015.
  • Museum – Use of the car park (which is conveniently located for the Museum) will make it easier for people to visit it.
  • Walkers, cyclists, and other occasional visitors to Datchworth Green – There is currently no formal parking within the village for such users. The proposal will hopefully discourage on-street parking and illegal parking on the Green whilst visitors walk the local footpaths. The provision of the proposed car park may also encourage more visitors to use the businesses within the village.
  • Datchworth Sports Club has around 6 major events each year, mostly during the rugby season, which more than fully use its own 50 space car park, the 40 spaces at the village hall, 20 spaces at the Turkey Farm recreation area and the 50 or so on-street parking spaces along Datchworth Green. This on-street parking results in one-way passage with passing places for several hours on Saturdays or Sundays along this part of the Watton to Woolmer Green road and on occasions results in un-stewarded parking in Brookbridge Lane and Bramfield Road. The provision of the proposed car park is expected to alleviate some of these on-street parking problems.

The car park will be locked at night, although leaving a car will be allowed if it is better to walk (or taxi) than drive!! But habitual over night parking will not be permitted.

The grant of planning permission is necessary before we can move on to the next stages – we will keep you posted.

(Click here to see enlarged image)