A temporary car park, which opened in Horsham last week, is offering commuters the cheapest all-day rate in the town centre.
The land at Horsham Gates, North Street, once home to Spofforths accounting firm before the building was attacked by arsonists in October 2009, is now a car park offering people to park £3 for the whole day or 80p an hour.
At a time when Horsham District Council has come under attack for increasing parking charges and introducing a flat rate evening at two car parks from 6pm-8pm, the 38 parking spaces managed by nationwide firm RCP Parking could be in high demand.
Despite concerns by Rockwell Collins, a company based next to the car park, about tailbacks of traffic onto the roundabout, the district council granted permission for a temporary car park for three years to ‘ease some parking issues around the town centre’.
Speaking to the County Times in October, when the company submitted the application, general manager Tony Wakeling promised a ‘commercially competitive’ car park and with rates lower than any other car park in Horsham town centre, that is what the company has provided.
He said this week that the timing if its opening - two weeks after the council parking charges were increased - was purely a co-incidence.
“We open when we open. We would have wished to have opened earlier, but the wheels of local government do not move quickly.”
They are aiming their business at the commuter market, particularly people using the railway station.
Mr Wakeling said: “I am sure that’s the market we’re most likely to serve. There’s the station car park there and it’s extremely busy and well used.
“I understand we are not operating on the doorstep, but that’s why we’re charging £3 and they charge £5.50. We believe we are offering an attractive proposition for the location we are in.”
It will make better use of the land, which has been derelict since the fire, but only until November 2015.
Although the district council report acknowledges the car park ‘will contribute in a positive way’, it also states that it would not normally permit such a development is this location.
It says that it is considered ‘reasonable to make an exception’ in the circumstances.
After November 30, 2015, RCP Parking has been told by HDC the use will be ‘permanently discontinued and the land be restored to a condition which has been previously agreed’.