Saturday 25 February 2017

Residents frustrated over 'secret' car park on roof only accessible by foot

The car park on top of a roof in Farnborough
The car park on top of a roof in Farnborough

Baffled residents have spoken of their frustration after a roof-top car park was built which can only be accessed by foot.

The "secret" car park was created on the roof of a gym five years ago as part of a phased development in the town centre of Farnborough, Hampshire, which suffers from a lack of parking spaces.

But the next stage of the development, which would include a bridge to access the car park, is still to be started, with the developers, St Modwen, admitting there is still no timescale for the project to get under way.

The 80-space car park, which was meant for residents living in the development and not as a public pay-and-display, has been built above The Gym in Queensmead.

Gareth Lyon, Conservative councillor for the town centre area on Rushmoor Borough Council and member of its development management committee, said: "We have a massive problem with car parking in Farnborough. To have had this huge car park lying empty defies belief. It is ridiculous."

A spokesman for St Modwen said: "Farnborough town centre is a long-term regeneration project where St Modwen has already delivered 185,000 sq ft of retail, leisure and hotel space, including a new Sainsbury's, Travelodge, JD Wetherspoons and New Look.

"Some 70 apartments have been built with 35% affordable. A new Vue cinema is now open with new restaurants also opening.

"The car park above The Gym was completed as part of the build contract for the Sainsbury's block. It will be a private car park for residents only, for which the access has always been designed in the overall regeneration plan to be via a bridge link from a new block that will be in a subsequent phase of development."

A Rushmoor Borough Council spokesman said: "This is a privately owned car park for residents and so we feel it is more appropriate for the owners, St Modwen, to comment rather than us."

The local authority's chief executive, Andrew Lloyd, told The Independent that St Modwen had decided not to proceed with the development during the economic downturn.

He said: "It was right not to proceed until the retail units of the first phase had been let. It wasn't desirable to proceed with void properties in the middle of the recession.

"We are pleased the development survived the recession. We are absolutely confident it will bring a major boost to Farnborough. And town centre car-parking space is not a major issue in Farnborough because we have a lot of it."

Clementine Wallop posted on Twitter: "Everything you needed to know about 'joined up thinking' in Britain."

Eleanor Mia posted with crying emojis: "My old gym has a 'secret' car park on top of it, oh Farnborough."

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