Year round free parking is major attraction
West Oxfordshire District Council’s free car parking policy is a major attraction to Witney, and boosting trade, according to retailers operating in the town.
“Free car parking is absolutely fantastic”, says Paul Hobbs of Fresh, a contemporary card and gift shop in Marriotts Walk, Witney. “Shoppers always comment on it as well as the brilliant diverse range of shops we have in the town which means you don’t have to go anywhere else.”
Paul’s views are echoed by Jill Armstrong, Manager of Waitrose who said, “Free parking is a real benefit to shoppers and retailers. It makes Witney a really attractive shopping destination with outstanding facilities. Without doubt attracting more people into Witney from other towns and now the town has so much more to offer – a huge variety of retailers, cinema and eating places.”
A car parking survey carried out by West Oxfordshire District Council showed that 55% came to Witney because parking was free.
Two years ago West Oxfordshire District Council increased car parking space in Witney when it opened a new 590-space free multi-storey car park as part of the Marriotts Walk development, increasing free car parking spaces to around 2,000 in the town.
Cllr David Harvey, Cabinet Member for Environment said, “Free parking, is undoubtedly a major attraction for Witney and all West Oxfordshire towns, not just at Christmas, but all year round. Despite the current financial climate, retailers are telling us footfall in Witney has increased and you can see by looking round there are very few empty shops in the town centre.
“Since we opened the new Marriotts Walk multi-storey car park, the additional number of car parking spaces is helping to meet the increased demand from more people using the town centre. For cyclists, we have also provided more bicycle parking spaces at Marriotts Walk and at the Woolgate Centre.”
The three council car parks in Witney offer a mix of long-stay and short-stay usage. All are free. Short stay spaces have limits up to 3 to 5 hours, and long-stay spaces are free up to 9 or 12 hours.
In total, Witney has around 2,000 car parking spaces - almost 1,800 in car parks and 200 on-street spaces.
Out of the 2,000 parking spaces, long stay parking accounts for 23% of spaces in the town centre. More long-stay parking is available at the artificial turf pitch car park on Gordon Way and at Cogges Farm Museum car park. Currently only a small number of people use these car parks regularly, but both are a short 5 to 10 minute walk to and from the town centre.
All the 16 council-run car parks throughout West Oxfordshire are free.
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