CAR PARKING charges could soon be introduced at Petersfield Heath – and at three other town council-owned car parks – under plans to be considered by councillors on Monday.

It is proposed new charges be introduced in Heath Road and Sussex Road ranging from 50p for an hour to £10 for 12 hours, Monday to Saturday. These fees will increase on Sundays, to £1 for one hour, £2 for two, £4 for four and £6 for six.

Love Lane and Bell Hill recreation ground could see more modest charges, starting at 30p for an hour rising to £5 for 12 hours – with the first half-hour free in Love Lane.

And it is proposed The Avenue Pavilion becomes a short-stay car park, with a flat fee of £1 for one hour.

Petersfield Town Council claims it lost around £100,000 in income during the pandemic, mainly through lost rental income from the Festival Hall, The Avenue Pavilion and other sites it rents out.

It also recently completed a £600,000 makeover of The Heath, and now proposes to spend £12 million ‘modernising’ Festival Hall.

But to make ends meet, the council increased its share of the council tax bill by 2.49 per cent, and hiked hire charges by two per cent, in April.

And it is estimated the planned charges would add £63,000 to the town council’s coffers annually – with £43,000 of this to come from Heath Road and Sussex Road alone.

The principle of introducing parking charges at the five locations was agreed by councillors in December.

But this Monday’s meeting will give members their first opportunity to debate the fees and business case put forward by officers.

In a report, officers state “free car parking facilities at recreation facilities are increasingly rare”. And they add “the provision of such free facilities does not promote healthy lifestyles nor encourage active travel when the primary purpose of those recreation facilities is to serve the immediate neighbourhood”.

The report also states the town’s car park facilities are “generally provided for visits to the town council’s open spaces or buildings”, but adds “it has been observed these parking facilities are frequently being used for other purposes”.

These include “commuters using the facilities to park all day while at work, construction vehicles whose staff are working on nearby properties and very short-term visits which include consuming fast food, to loiter, littering, carry out anti-social behaviour and drug dealing”.

To tune into next Monday’s meeting, email [email protected] in advance to request a Zoom password.