Poll: Ipswich parking provides best value in region – survey

Is parking a factor in attracting visitors to towns?

Is parking a factor in attracting visitors to towns?

Ipswich offers the best-value parking among all the large towns or cities in East Anglia, according to a new survey.

Colchester High Street

Colchester High Street - Credit: Su Anderson

Parking in or near the town centre is cheaper than that in Norwich, Cambridge or Colchester – and on a par with that in Bury St Edmunds.

That is the finding of a new survey by the Ipswich Society – which says the facts do not support claims by some people that Ipswich is an expensive place to visit.

The survey was carried out by Tim Leggett, from the society. He said it was understandable that people should want to visit different towns and cities for a variety of reasons – but the cost of parking could not be a significant reason.

He said: “I come from Bury and still visit the town, but it’s not because of the cost of parking.

Bury is popular with shoppers - but is that because of the parking?

Bury is popular with shoppers - but is that because of the parking? - Credit: Archant

“There are expensive car parks in Ipswich, but generally speaking there are plenty of cheaper parking spaces – and the cost of spaces is generally less than that in other large towns.

“Bury’s parking is a similar cost but it is not as large a town centre – it does not have shops like BHS, Maplin, Primark, Tiger and several other national chains that we have in Ipswich.”

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Mr Leggett said that the cost of parking in both Cambridge and Norwich city centres was higher than that in Ipswich – and that traffic into those car parks could make the journey very difficult.

Both large cities have well-established park and ride services which attract visitors who are planning to spend more than two hours in the city centre.

Ipswich’s park and ride service is currently under threat because the county council, which sponsors it, says it does not attract enough users.

County officials have said that one reason for park and ride’s financial problems is the fact that town centre car parking is relatively cheap.

Ipswich Borough Council is expected to decide next month whether to double the size of the Crown Car Park by building an extra floor – or rebuilding a full four-storey car park to quadruple its capacity from the current 230 to more than 900.

Business leaders shared Mr Leggett’s doubts about whether the cost of parking had any bearing on whether people decided to visit one town over the other.

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said the figures bore out what his organisation – which promotes the town centre – had been saying. He said promotions to make parking cheaper had been successful in attracting more shoppers – but there was still more investment needed in parking.

“That is why we are drawing up a new strategy to improve the parking in Ipswich town centre – including the provision of park and ride services.”

The chief executive of Bid for Bury, Mark Cordell, said he would not disagree with the findings of the Ipswich Society survey – and accepted that visitors to the town were motivated by many factors, of which the provision of high-quality car parking was just one.

He said: “It is true that Ipswich has some shops that we don’t have – but there are others that you will only find here. That’s what makes our town centres so attractive to visit – their diversity.

“The prices of the long-stay car parks, £2.30 all day, make them attractive – and you can’t be sure of getting in the Parkway multi-storey after 10am because it is popular with people working in the town.”

Colchester Borough Council’s portfolio holder for street services, Dominic Graham, said: “In the past year we have taken major strides to deliver more cost-effective services across the borough and to make it easier for residents and visitors who use our pay & display car parks to enjoy a hassle-free parking experience.

“We have led the field in the use of cashless parking, by introducing MiPermit, which allows parking to be paid using a smartphone app, online portal, text or phone call, with no need to issue a paper ticket. And we have pioneered contactless payment technology to complement the coin and MiPermit options available – recently becoming the first town in the UK to offer ApplePay, at our St Mary’s car park. I am immensely proud of the diverse attractions our town centre has to offer residents and visitors, and equally proud of the services and facilities that we, as a council, are able to provide in support of them.

“The contribution the town centre makes to Colchester’s standing as one of the most vibrant cultural and commercial centres in the region cannot be over-stated.”

Ipswich car parks:

IBC(Crown car park, other smaller parks in the town centre): £1 an hour, £1 flat rate after 3pm.

Britannia Parking (Civic Centre site inc Spiral underground): £1.50 for first hour, £2.70 for two hours, £7 for six hours.

NCP (Foundation St): £2.20 first hour, going up £2 an hour thereafter.

NCP (Tacket St/Cox Lane): £1.80 first hour, £6 for up to four hours.

NCP (Crown Street): £3 an hour.

RCP: Various sites around the Waterfront 60p an hour, Handford Rd 80p an hour.

Bury car parks:

Arc shopping centre: £2 for first hour, £4 for up to four hours.

Angel Hill: £1.50 for 30 mins, £2.20 an hour.

Ram Meadow and Parkway: £1.50 for two hours, £2.30 all day.

Colchester car parks:

St Mary’s, Balkern Hill(CBC): £1.80 for one hour, £3.50 four hours, £7 all day – higher charges on Saturdays.

Nunn’s Road (NCP): £2.50 for one hour, £6.50 for three hours, £8.50 all day.

Osborne St (NCP): £2 for one hour, £6 for four hours, £8 all day.

Cowdray Ave (CBC): £1.50 for one hour, £3.50 for four hours, £8.80 for nine hours.