Plans for two hours free parking in Darlington unveiled
TWO hours of free parking for shoppers and visitors to Darlington are set to be introduced, if councillors vote in favour of the proposal.
Following a review into how Darlington Borough Council can provide extra support to the town centre, the two hours of free parking would be made available to all vehicles using council-owned long-stay car parks.
The third hour will be £1, while an all-day ticket will continue to be £4.
Another change proposed is the East Street car park (the multi-storey above Wilkos) will return to £2 for the whole day, if the review into car parking charges in the town centre is agreed by cabinet.
The proposals will go before the cabinet on June 5.
The first two hours free will also apply on Sundays, with a £1 fee for the rest of the day. Short-stay car parks will continue to be £1 for the day.
Councillor Nick Wallis, cabinet member for leisure and transport, said: “In the fight against the threat of online shopping, the council is playing its part to promote Darlington town centre trade.
“These proposals have been in the pipeline for a little while now and while it is not a response to the unfortunate news that M&S is looking to close its Darlington store, our work to provide extra support to the town centre has taken on a new vigour.
“We hope Darlington residents, and shoppers from outside the town alike, will make good use of the two hours and take the time to enjoy all that our town centre has to offer, whether that is retail or leisure, or simply taking the time to explore areas they might not otherwise visit, such as The Yards or Grange Road.”
The review of long-stay car parking charges comes as part of a series of initiatives by the council to make the town centre a more welcoming place to visit in the face of changing shopping habits.
Other changes made in recent weeks include extra street cleaning in and around the town centre, restrictions on charity fundraisers (also known as chuggers) and the introduction of a town centre manager, who works closely with retailers and business owners as a direct link with the council.
Darlington has also entered Northumbria in Bloom’s special town centre category, with hanging baskets and planters due to be installed across the town centre in the coming weeks.
If the proposals are agreed by cabinet members, it is expected that the two hours free parking will go live in early July.
Motorists using the two hours free parking offer will need to obtain a ticket from the machine and clearly display it inside their vehicle to show what time they arrived. The free offer is restricted to one ticket, per vehicle, per day.
Each of the nine long-stay car parks, offering a total 643 spaces, are monitored by CCTV. Payment can be made by coins, card (chip & pin/contactless) and pay by mobile phone.
Short-stay car parks and on-street parking charges will not change on this occasion but will be kept under review.