Calls for more parking spaces in Bury St Edmunds as review is under way

There are concerns over a lack of parking for the Theatre Royal and Cathedral in Bury. Sarah Friswel

There are concerns over a lack of parking for the Theatre Royal and Cathedral in Bury. Sarah Friswell (Cathedral)(left), Benjamin Willmott (Theatre Royal) and Nicki Dixon (Theatre Royal) are pictured. - Credit: Archant

Calls have been made for more parking spaces in southern Bury St Edmunds as a major review of borough council car parks in the town is in full swing.

Following the loss of more than 100 spaces at the Shire Hall complex, as well as 40 spaces at the Manor House car park, concerns have been raised over a lack of parking in this area of Bury.

Premier Inn now operates the car park at the back of New Shire Hall for its customers and St Edmundsbury Borough Council was given notice to quit the Manor House car park, where it offered 40 spaces.

A borough council spokesman said it was replacing the 40 spaces at the Premier Inn car park for weekends from next month.

Sarah Friswell, PR manager at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, which is part of the car parks review working group, said the loss of parking has been raised as an issue by the cathedral’s volunteers.

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“The issue of car parking is a very real one for us.

“We have a tiny car park for us here at the cathedral which is not adequate for our own needs so we rely on the town car parks for our staff, volunteers and also visitors. We want them to park in a convenient place.”

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She said the Ram Meadow car park is a seven-minute walk away, but it might not be suitable for the disabled or infirm.

Theatre Royal director Karen Simpson said she was “very surprised and disappointed” to hear of the loss of the parking in south Bury.

She said: “Over 70,000 people visit Theatre Royal so we have a real need to offer our audiences nearby parking.

“It has left the theatre without any parking facilities for audiences attending matinees and people visiting the theatre for tours or attending meetings here.”

She said the closure of the car parks had also been compounded by work on Maynewater Lane, where there is normally on-road parking.

“Thankfully, we are still able to offer evening parking through the use of the Greene King car park to the rear of our building for our audience members.”

The council spokesman said they are aware of the shortage of parking in the south of the town, “but given that this is in the heart of the medieval grid, our options are limited”.

A Greene King spokeswoman said: “We are working closely with St Edmundsbury Borough Council to help provide extra free weekend car parking space for shoppers in the run up to Christmas.”

The borough is consulting on the subject of parking at its car parks in Bury and Haverhill, looking at issues such as cost, capacity and facilities, and payment options.

The car parks review working group will report back to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on November 11.

The last major review of the borough’s car parks was in 2012.

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