Call for closure of Chichester car park to create permanent market

The idea of closing a Chichester car park to create space for a permanent market in the city centre has been floated by a former council leader.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 2:25 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 2:34 pm

Tony Dignum, who was in charge of Chichester District Council from 2015 to 2019, voiced the suggestion for Little London Car Park at a meeting yesterday (Tuesday January 28).

He felt the measure would improve air quality in the city centre and help tackle climate change.

He said combating these issues would include painful actions ‘including shutting car parks that encourage traffic to where it should not be allowed’.

His comments came during a debate about expanding street trading across a wider area of the city.

Street trading is currently prohibited within the city centre, other than the pedestrianised areas of East Street, North Street and Crane Street and the part of St Martin’s Street.

The council is expanding the areas where street trading can take place to also include Jays Walk and parts of South Street, Guildhall Street, St Martin’s Square, Little London, West Street, Tower Street, Chapel Street, West Pallant and Cooper Street.

Norma Graves, cabinet member for housing, communications, licensing and events, said the changes would offer greater flexibility for local events as well as opening up Chichester’s side streets and encouraging visitors to explore other areas of the city.

Then Richard Plowman (LDem, Chichester North) suggested the idea of including Little London Car Park as somewhere where street trading could take place.

It was after this comment that Cllr Dignum (Con, Chichester North) made the case for shutting the car park, which he described as ‘unpleasant’ and instead using the site for a permanent market.

He said: “If we are serious about air quality and climate change it’s something that needs to be done.”

Officers described how they are currently in the process of conducting a car park strategic review, which will audit the requirements for the city.

Previous suggestions for Little London have been to make it blue badge only or exclusively for electric vehicles.

Councillors agreed to progress proposals to allow street trading in the Little London Car Park.

Cllr Plowman suggested this would allow them to hold large-scale events there and ‘all this is saying is this is a good place to have a market or something similar’.

Officers said street trading applications are dealt with on a case by case basis looked at the individual merits of each.