An ‘oversight’ in Crawley’s newly-adopted local plan could cause parking chaos in the town.
That’s according to airport parking firm Airparks who say that the plan restricts all new future parking provision for Gatwick to within the airport’s boundary.
Said a spokesman for the company: “This change which will result in and exacerbate a number of issues for Crawley, including encouraging illegal or nuisance parking, creating problems for local residents in the local area.”
The firm maintains that Gatwick’s continued growth will mean the airport is dealing with 40 million passengers by next year, and the airport will need 10,000 additional spaces.
“However,” says the company,” it has not built any new spaces in two and a half years and has no current plans to build more.”
They maintain that unauthorised parking is already a problem for local residents and has tripled in 12 years which, they say, will increase with rising airport passenger numbers.
They also say that a change in policy in the town’s plan will also increase traffic and pollution by encouraging ‘kiss and fly’, where holidaymakers are dropped off at the airport, which, they maintain, doubles the traffic and pollution of each journey.
Chris Paul, a solicitor acting for Airparks, said: “There is already a lack of sufficient airport parking highlighted by the continued increase in illegal parking.
“Gatwick Airport is not building new spaces to cope with growing passenger numbers so the problem will increase. This change in policy will create major problems for residents in the borough and could easily be amended to prevent this happening.”
But a council spokesperson said there was spare capacity to meet parking needs. He said: “Gatwick Airport has a target of 40 per cent of passengers travelling by public transport by the time the airport reaches 40m passengers per year. The airport has reached 40m passengers and the target has been surpassed at 42 per cent.
“The success of public transport initiatives to increase its use results in less pressure on long stay parking sites. There is spare capacity in authorised sites, on and off airport, for car parking to meet needs. Therefore, there is no evidence to suggest that the increase in unauthorised parking between 2002-2014 is caused by a lack of parking spaces. Surveys during the recession showed that there was excess capacity as passenger numbers dropped but unauthorised parking did not decrease.
“In determining the policy as sound, the Planning inspector said that ‘given the scarcity of land in Crawley and the available capacity at the airport, there is a strong argument that the priority for land which becomes available outside the airport should be a more productive use such as housing or employment’.”