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Special Parking Area
Special Parking Area - The Society's position.
THE MARLOW SOCIETY - PROVISIONAL POSITION ON SPA PROPOSAL
The Marlow Society has for a long time been concerned that the existing traffic control regulations, as they apply to parking in Marlow, have not been adequately enforced.
For that reason, the Society has strongly supported the principle of transferring responsibility for parking enforcement from Thames Valley Police to a Special Parking Area regime operated by the local authorities. However, in the absence of any formal consultative document setting out the local authorities' proposals or any other detailed information on the proposed regime, the Society has not previously taken a view on any new parking related provisions (e.g. charging/pricing mechanisms) that might accompany, or follow, the introduction of such a regime.
The Society has observed and recorded a wide scale abuse of the existing parking regulations in Marlow. In addition, there is extensive daytime parking in many residential areas of the town by business employees, visitors and even school children. This is all to the detriment of our historic riverside market town, often referred to as the "Jewel of the Thames".
We strongly share the views of other representative bodies in the town that, to ensure the continued viability of the declining number of small shops and businesses that are essential to maintaining the traditional character of Marlow, short term on-street parking in and near to the main shopping streets is highly desirable. This should not seriously detract from the satisfaction and safety of pedestrians in those streets. The Society believes that visitors to Marlow should find that parking in the town is convenient, reasonably priced and hassle free.
The Society has campaigned for more off-street parking in Marlow to help protect the town's attractive environment whilst maintaining and enhancing its vitality and viability. It was extremely disappointed by the failure of the recent Waitrose proposals adequately to address this issue. It has also repeatedly expressed an objection to planning applications for new office buildings in the town centre that will inevitably exacerbate the town's parking and congestion problems.
The Society believes that when parking regulations are rigorously enforced in Marlow, in the absence of sufficient off-street parking, there will be a ripple effect of consequential vehicle displacements across the town, unless the behaviour of drivers changes. It accepts that the first phase of the SPA will be limited to the proper enforcement of the existing regulations. It is vitally important that a full SPA regime is not introduced before a comprehensive public consultation is conducted in Marlow on any options likely to be considered for subsequent development of the scheme. An essential pre-requisite is the need for detailed analysis of parking needs and patterns so that a clear understanding of both future needs and the potential consequences of the options for any additional parking restrictions can be established.
The Society also sees this public consultation on the planned introduction of an SPA regime as an opportunity to address other related transportation issues in the town. Indeed, since the last attempt to develop a transportation strategy for the town failed, because it was not possible to gain wide community agreement, a future transportation strategy for the town is now required and should be developed in parallel with the development of Phase 2 of the SPA.
The Society sets out below some of the issues that it would expect a comprehensive public consultation on the implementation of the second phase of the SPA to address. Some of these have been prompted by sight of the consultancy report commissioned by the local authorities. A number of wider issues that need to be explored at the same time are also identified. The Society's comments follow the questions posed.
Issues for SPA Public Consultation to address.
Scope of SPA
Should the existing on-street parking restrictions be extended? We believe that this question cannot adequately be answered until the local authorities have conducted an in-depth, survey based analysis of business, resident and visitor parking patterns and needs.
Should maximum parking times in the High Street and adjoining streets (e.g. West Street, Institute Road and Station Road) be changed?  It is important for the viability of small businesses in the town centre shopping area, and for local residents, that short term parking [up to 1 hour maximum] remains available in these streets. This is essential to maintaining the market town character of Marlow.
Should residential parking areas be introduced? The Society sees a mixture of potential benefits and disbenefits, depending on the details of any proposed residential parking scheme. Issues such as whether residential parking would be restricted to only certain hours, whether there would be charging for residential parking permits and the type of regime to be applied when residents do not have exclusive parking rights need to be comprehensively addressed through the consultation process.
How will delivery vehicle unloading/parking be regulated? Goods vehicle delivery is a mqjor source of congestion in the town centre. The Society has always supported rear servicing by delivery vehicles, wherever possible. It believes inadequate attention has been paid to this through the planning process. The consultation process should seek opinions on the options for controlling vehicle loading/unloading including the enforcement and change to the existing times when unloading is prohibited.
Will parking on pavements and verges within the town be penalised as part of the SPA? This is a widespread problem in the town that needs to be addressed.
Should on-street parking be subject to charging? This is a core issue for public consultation. The Society would not be opposed to a "reasonable" level of charging [to be identified through consultation]. it would however oppose the use of parking meters. Well designed parking ticket dispensers discreetly located so as not to offend the historic street scene would provide a sensible mechanism for the enforcement of time limits.
Should the SPA be "revenue neutral"? The local authorities will need ultimately to publish a clear policy statement this complex issue. Their initial ideas/proposals should be tested through the public consultation. Our provisional view is that income from all sources of parking in Marlow should be ring fenced and allocated to satisfying the parking needs of Marlow in an environmentally sound manner. Any excess income over cost beyond that should be allocated to meeting the sustainable transportation and environmental needs of Marlow.?
 Unfortunately our members' questionnaire referred to Institute Road as 'Liston Road'
A potentially large number of workers cars will be displaced by the rigorous enforcement, and potential extension, of parking restrictions. How should this be addressed? This will be a major problem and issue.A comprehensive strategy is required to address it. Such a strategy should include the promotion of 'GreenTravel Plans' by the larger employers in the town, car-sharing initiatives, cycle route development and theconsideration of other initiatives such as a town shuttle bus service.
Should the number of off-street parking spaces in the town be increased? The Society has consistently argued for additional off-street parking capacity in the town to meet its current and future business and visitor needs. The options for two tier parking (where one level is sub-surface, but not wholly underground) in the town should be explored and costed so that this option can be properly considered.????
Park and Ride /Walk and Ride.
The Society has consistently opposed proposals for Park and Ride or Walk and Ride sites to the east of the A404. It does not believe that Park and Ride facilities would be economically justified for Marlow. The Society strongly advocates the protection and enhancement of the countryside surrounding Marlow and supports the proposed Countryside Park concept for the area to the east of the A404.
The Society believes there is scope for introducing a [shuttle] bus service between the High Wycombe Park and Ride site and Marlow, particularly to meet the needs of those that work in the town. We would like the feasibility of such a service to be evaluated because it could have a direct impact on reducing worker parking needs.
Home Zones/20 mph Zones
Large parts of the residential areas of Marlow would lend themselves to the introduction of Home Zones, where maximum speed limits could be reduced to 20 mph. A similar limit in the vicinity of schools, at least during term time, should be considered. Greater priority should be given to pedestrians and cycling. Introduction of such a scheme in appropriate residential areas could have a dramatic impact on community life and Marlow's environment. This could be an opportunity for Wycombe District Council and Buckinghamshire County Council to establish a "Best Practice" example of civic design for the 21st Century.
Serious consideration should be given to the introduction of a 20 mph zone in the main shopping streets of the Town.
As at 1 Feb 13 the Society has received no direct feedback from Bucks CC on the work in progress to quantify the parking problem. This was promised by 31 Jan 13.