There is a lack of car parking for the town’s supermarkets of Station Drive. That’s almost impossible to solve. Some people park in Tesco to shop there. Others shop in Aldi or the town centre without visiting Tesco. The car park is free, as is the Aldi car park. Charges apply in the council owned Galdeford car park. Its lowest deck, nearest to Tesco, is often full of vehicles owned by town centre workers and train travellers by first thing in the morning.

Tesco is concerned that its car park is being used by people who spend no money at all in its store. And that those people are reducing turnover in the car park and turnover in the store. It has applied to introduce a new scheme with 30 minutes free and up to two hours free if £5 is spent in the store.

When the Tesco store was approved in 1998, South Shropshire District Council (SSDC) insisted that the company draw up a management plan for the car park. This had to enable linked trips. That means the maximum waiting time had to be sufficient to allow shoppers to pop into the town centre as well as shop in the store. The current parking regime was set out in a management plan sent to SSDC after planning permission was granted. This has subsequently been lost by both Tesco and SSDC or Shropshire Council. Unfortunate.

A planning application has been submitted for a new regime (20/04716/VAR)

“Tesco are finding that their car park is coming under considerable pressure and is being used by non-Tesco customers. This is limiting the number of spaces available to shoppers, detracting from the attractiveness of the store as a main food shopping location, and in turn impacting on its trading performance.”

Customers will get half an hour free to allow for short shopping trips or pick-up and drop-offs. If drivers spend £5 in store, they will be allowed to stay for up to two hours.

The restriction will be monitored by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras which will record when vehicles enter and leave. A voucher issued at the cash till will be scanned into one of four proposed ticket validation terminals in the car park. If drivers do not do this or stay longer than the 2 hours, they will be issued a penalty charge notice of £70, reduced to £42 if paid in 14 days.

The car park controls will apply to all parking spaces within the Tesco car park, including disabled parking bays. Exemptions can be applied to blue badge holders at the discretion of the store manager if additional time is required to complete a shopping trip.

This is stricter but not different in principle from the current regime.

Tesco argues, and I agree, that its current proposal meets the intention of a condition attached to the original planning permission that linked trips into the town centre must be facilitated. People will be able to spend half an hour in Tesco, half an hour in Aldi and still have an hour to shop at the independent merchants around the town centre.

I can’t see any reason for rejecting this application.

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