Saturday, October 12, 2013

New shopping environment, a cinema. What's not to like?...

Quite a few comments coming in on the so called Regeneration of Tonbridge Plans, being exhibited for public consultation at the Castle, which is not surprising since it is likely to be the biggest development in Tonbridge for the next decade or so. The loss of parking seems to be an issue and some are concerned about the effect of shops possibly wanting to move off the High Street into the new units around the Angel development. I've got mixed views on this. On the one hand I can understand fears about the loss of parking spaces but would this really stop shoppers coming into the town? I doubt it will make too much difference. Wouldn't they be more likely to come to Tonbridge if the quality of the shops and the shopping environment were improved? Perhaps we should be thinking about how we improve access into the town by bicycle and public transport as well as by car. I wholeheartedly agree with the suggestion that parking charges should be on exit from the car park. This simple measure would do away with the need to guess how long you were going to stay when buying a ticket and would usually mean shoppers would stay longer. Very simple and very effective. Incidentally it would also do away with the laughable sight of two or three traffic wardens hovering over cars in the Angel car park whose tickets are about to run out. (It happened to me on more than one occasion.) Less revenue from parking fines from the council though so maybe they'll stick with the current crazy system!
A cinema in the town would be a big plus and I for one would support it. Anyone with teenage children will know what an absolute pain it is having to drive over to the Odeon and then back again later in order to make sure they are safe and don't have to walk back to High Brooms across deserted retail parks late at night. So we shouldn't underestimate how good it will be having a cinema. That said it would have to be comfortable, state of the art and not some flea pit....

4 comments:

Dave said...

The point about less parking spaces is very relevant since there are times now when the Angel car parks reach full capacity. So what do motorists do when car parks are full?
If you have booked a cinema ticket in the future and the car park is full you will not be too pleased.
With a larger supermarket, extra shops, restaurants and the cinema visitors will stay longer putting even more pressure on parking spaces.
It no good the council saying there will be extra parking when the Botany Sovereign site is developed, this site will be mainly for housing and parking will be under extreme pressure there.
With extra retail properties and increased business rates the council can afford to use the pay on exit system. They could even get the developer to pay for a "Spaces indicator board" as they have elsewhere.
During the building period we can expect a lot less visitors to the town as parking will become scarce. Maybe existing shops should ask for a business rate reduction during this period.

rosered said...

The Sainsbury's car park will apparently have about an extra 300 spaces in the new development. There are quite a lot of car parks I notice around the back of Tonbridge which are always 1/2 empty - only another 100m further than the Sainsburys & Waitrose ones.
It would be nice if there was parking nearer to the leisure centre but its such a small site it would need to be underground & then I suppose the cost would be prohibitive.
Perhaps people could learn to walk as in 'the old days'. My kids wont walk further than 10 minutes unless its for a 'proper walk' in the countryside - everyone is so used to the car for even short journeys.

Dave said...

Rosered, it begs the question why the Leisure centre was not built on one of these half empty car parks in Sovereign Way? I also believe that the council should have insisted on the Leisure centre remaining on the Angel site with a minimal loss to the retail element. But I guess with a Freebie on offer the council took the easy option.
I still believe that trade from High Street only shoppers who use Bradford Street will go elsewhere, some even to the enlarged Sainsburys. Adults just like your children will not walk across the road, as is the case with using the Sovereign Road car parks. That's why when the Angel car parks are full (and they are full at times) these are half empty.
The figures in the hand out do not reflect on an increase of 300 parking space as they include all car parks in the Angel and Botany area. There are approx. 550 spaces in the Angel and Bradford street car parks and 1200 in the area. The leaflet and TMBC web site are quoting 850 after development, the council should come clean on this and tell us how many spaces will be on the Angel site, taking the number up to 850 from 490 on the Angel site even with the under building car park is not possible.

Brett said...

Moving the leisure centre away from the shopping (albeit a small distance) and closer to rec ground and swimming pool makes sense. The leisure centre is being reduced in size though - 6 courts at present, down to three in development although, as they mentioned, there are other facilities around the town now....

Problems I see, as mentioned by others, are the loss of beales and the departments within. Also, given the council are getting this development for 'free' I would like to see them do something about the high street and especially Angel Walk and the Pavillion - there's little point having a big, shiny Sainsbury's and Cinema if the rest of the high street is left to rot. There's been some good moves on the high street recently - notably Monsoon and the new butchers and finch house coffee shop - but it is severely lacking and I cannot see how a just relying on a bigger supermarket and cinema will resolve this. I know there are 'retail outlets' being built but it would of been nice to of seen something happen to the highstreet rather than just on the Angel and Sovereign sites...