Alderley Edge Parish Council received 431 responses to their parking consultation, of which 318 came from residents of the village whilst 113 were from non-residents.
About 70 people gathered at the Methodist Church for the feedback meeting on Thursday 11th February where councillors presented the results of the consultation and people's response to the proposals which they put forward last month to resolve the parking issues in the village.
Of the residents who responded 76% were in favour of all their proposed schemes, which centre around creating two new car parks. whilst 15% were in disagreement with all the proposals.
Firstly the Parish Council propose to build 44 car parking spaces at the Heyes Lane allotment site along with an access road to the Festival Hall to relieve traffic pressures on Stamford and Talbot Roads. This would take up about 25% of the allotment space and cost about £200,000 (£4545 per space).
These spaces would be in addition to the 41 spaces being provided at the Festival Hall site which Councillor Mike Dudley-Jones explained are allocated accordingly: 12 for doctors and staff; 13 for patients; 2 for the pharmacy employees; 3 for disabled; 8 for the second floor tenants (2 per unit) and 3 for festival hall staff.
79% of residents who responded agreed with this proposal and 15% disagreed, whilst 70% of non-residents agreed and 14% disagreed.
At Chorley Hall Lane the Parish Council are proposing to provide 100 parking spaces, on the lower end of the playing fields, for long stay car parking spaces, taking up 25% of the site. According to their consultants the cost would be around £329,000 (£3740 per space).
This proved the most controversial proposal with 60% of residents who responded in favour and 33% against, whilst 64% of non-residents approved of the proposal and 25% were against.
Cllr Dudley-Jones explained to the audience that the main reasons for this were traffic issues, loss of part of the playing fields, being too far from the centre, people will not pay if street parking is available and the cost is too high.
The Parish Council's review also included making changes to existing car parks. At South Street they have already changed it to short term parking only but plan to amend the charges so they match those in the neighbouring Parade car park, remove the 'Free After Three' scheme and introduce no returning within two hours.
This proved the most popular recommendation with 85% of responding residents in favour and only 3% against, whilst 60% of non-residents approved and 19% didn't.
At Ryleys Lane, which is currently free to use and does not have any formal parking spaces, the Parish Council propose to reconfigure it for short term parking creating 33-35 spaces and possibly another 16 if a second tier was added. 81% of residents who completed the survey approved of this with 8% disagreeing, whilst 66% of non-residents were in favour and 21% were not.
Key questions raised about the Heyes Lane proposal included: increasing the number of spaces; building a second deck; the village was being held to ransom by a few allotment holders; the whole site looks a scruffy mess; the access road would increase traffic on an already busy road; drainage issues; the De Trafford covenant restricts use of the land; Cheshire East Council (CEC) has turned down a proposal to convert the whole site into a car park so what would they allow?
The Parish Council confirmed that they have not approached CEC yet to ask how much of the site they would permit to become a car park because they are not yet sure what the local people would like them to approach CEC with.
Issues raised about the Chorley Hall Lane proposal included: traffic and pedestrian safety over the railway bridge; worry about safety at the car park exit; loss of part of valuable sports playing fields; the playing fields are a mud bath; too far to walk; property value will go down; Sport England need to be consulted and why do we have to pay for commuters long term car parking?
Regarding South Street there was a suggestion to build a multi-storey car park and at Ryley's Lane people suggested extending the car park up to London Road, which Councillor Craig Browne confirmed CEC have dismissed as an option as it would set a precedent.
As a result of the consultation a number of alternative sites for car parks were made including adding a multi-storey car park at the station, using Lydiatt Lane playing fields (owned by AESG) as a car park or new allotment site; exploring herringbone car parking on London Road; use part of the site off Wilmslow Road which AESG are hoping to build sports facilities on and build a multi-storey behind Aldeli/Piccolinos.
Other suggestions and criticisms were raised, amongst these were: CEC should allow S106 monies to be used for car parks; businesses should be paying for car parks not residents; the Parish Council is biased as two live on Heyes Lane and three are allotment holders; the proposals are unbalanced because they are for 100 spaces at one site and 44 at the other and Ryleys School must use their lay-by as a school drop off zone.
Additionally people suggested encouraging more cycling, more people to rent their drives out during the day, increasing parking enforcement and introducing a park and ride scheme whereby those working in the village park at Alderley Park and a bus brings them into the village.
The Parish Council confirmed that the next steps in their parking review would be organising site visits with CEC Planning and Open Space Officers to assess their proposals; feeding back residents responses to CEC; meeting with CEC Highways to discuss the safety of Chorley Hall Lane railway bridge - regardless of whether a car park is built or not; instigating a more in-depth survey into the drainage issues; proposing that Alderley Edge Gardens & Allotment Society places a resolution in front of all members to establish the level of support for creating an access road and 44 car parking spaces at Heyes Lane to safeguard investment in the Festival Hall and Medical Centre and to continue discussions with local businesses, schools and organisations to see how they can contribute more fully to improving the parking situation in the village.
Speaking during the questions session Councillor Craig Browne said "In an ideal world we would be able to go out and build one very large car park, Cheshire East would pay for and car parking would be free for those who wish to use it, but we don't live in an ideal world. So the proposals that we've ended up putting forward, each of them is in fact a compromise of a kind.
"This is necessary really because in fact whether we are talking about Chorley Hall Lane, Heyes Lane or indeed Ryleys Lane each of those proposals has something in common which is that all of them contravene Cheshire East's policy on open spaces. Now I've had discussions already with senior offices, with Cabinet, deputy cabinet members and what's come out of those discussions and conversations is an indication that Cheshire East would be prepared to be flexible and would be prepared to compromise in each case but they require us to compromise also.
"So the idea that they would encounter a 100% coverage on either Heyes Lane or Chorley Hall Lane simply is not going to be acceptable. They have their open space policy for a reason which is to protect their open spaces across the borough."
He added "If I could also address the issue of Ryleys Lane which I know a lot of people have asked about possibly extending that space into the park. Possibly if Alderley Edge was the only park or playing field in Cheshire East then it would be less of an issue but of course Cheshire East have loads of other parks that they're responsible for and they have a responsibility to protect public parks.
"I hadn't realised that the car park that exists there at the moment isn't in fact a car park at all. it's still classified as open space which Macclesfield Borough and now Cheshire East have allowed us to use unofficially as parking space so they regard very much as a reasonable compromise us being allowed to formally adopt that space to create a regime on it and possibly to deck it as we suggested in the proposal, but not to extend it at the expense of the public park.
"And the reason is that there is a danger from a Cheshire East point of view that it would set a legal precedent which developers could use on other public parks within the borough which Cheshire East would find very difficult to defend at appeal."
Speaking about S106 monies Cllr Browne said "These are agreements that are signed off between Cheshire East and developers to mitigate loss of amenity as a result of development. This is not actually parish councils money to use, legally the money has to be spent by Cheshire East as they are a signatory to the agreement.
"There are currently five S106 schemes in operation in Alderley, I think in total is about £200,00 across the five schemes. I've already established that none of them could support the development of a car park at Heyes Lane, it is possible that one could be used in respect of Chorley Hall Lane.
"It is also possible that a further two that specifically mention and relate to improvement and access to the park so that the issue raised about the footpath along the railway line (leading from the proposed car park at Chorley Hall Lane playing field) it is possible that we could access S106 money to help upgrade that path and provide lighting along it."
Alderley Edge Parish Council will hold their next public meeting about the parking review on Thursday 7th April at 7pm in the Festival Hall.