Petition with 1,103 signatures calls for action over loss of parking in Luton's historic quarter

High Town businesses and residents are demanding action

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 11:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 11:18 pm

Furious High Town businesses and residents have banded together after claiming they have been let down by Luton Council.

A 1,103 name petition against the loss of parking spaces in the Brunswick Street car park has been collected and locals have now formed a group to tackle the issues they say are threatening the prosperity of the historic area.

Mohammed Shahid, for the group said: "We have now formed the High Town Business & Community Association because we feel that our councillors are not representing us at all and are not working at improving the quality of life in the area whatsoever.

Campaigners have banded together over the loss of car parking spaces

"The council has for years invested in the regeneration of High Town and High Town Road small businesses and so we are confused as to why they would undo that investment by taking steps that clearly detrimentally affect the local residents and small businesses.

"There is no cohesiveness in their actions and had we known about this before, we would have objected to these plans for sure. This was not a disused carpark and Foxhall Homes Ltd are already developing the only other carpark on Back Street which was closed by the council. Now they have taken away the only convenient parking for visitors and businesses in High Town that was left."

Businesses and residents have been protesting since November after car parking spaces were reduced to create spaces for newly built housing. They say it has had a major impact on people shopping in the area and businesses say heir staff are finding it hard to find parking spaces.

Mohammed said: "The council never consulted any of the plans for the development of the area with the businesses or the residents in High Town. Disabled visitors would use this car park as it had easy access to High Town Road, all residents of High Town, small businesses’ owners and their workers have been detrimentally affected by the council's decision to unilaterally close off this parking.

Campaigners say the loss of car parking is causing chaos in the area

"The council failed to properly consult with local persons affected by this action and have failed to provide alternatives suitable for parking that has been displaced. The community is aware of suggestions to use parking at Wenlock Street and Hitchin Road, but the first one is pretty busy during the day time and the other is located further down.

"To walk there with pram, shopping bags or if a person’s mobility is limited, would be very inconvenient as even to access parking at Hitchin Road people have to pass through busy road without safe pedestrian passage. Not to mention that the route to Hitchin Road is not lit well and with garages, storages and other commercial buildings around people are not feeling safe walking through it in evening and night time.

"In addition, we need to highlight that the development of new accommodation will bring more cars to the area anyway, but with fewer places to park, so the situation will escalate.

"We have had an overwhelming response to the petition, people simply were not aware of what was happening. We have heard from people who are disabled and parents with young children who need these car parking facilities so they can access High Town Road, the church holds weekly congregations and events, so where is everyone meant to park if you remove all the parking?

"We have already see some people having to park on the pavements blocking them for pedestrians, which never happened in such scale before. The council and Foxhall Homes Ltd have created this issue. Where was the highways and transport assessment on the impact of their development plans. It cannot be one rule for them and another for ordinary folks in Luton."

The group has written to local MP Rachel Hopkins and is now calling on the council to review the parking in the area.

A spokesman for the council said : "The council is aware of this petition and continues to engage with businesses in High Town that are concerned over parking facilities in the area.

"The current phase of works to the car park has now been completed and the new public area containing 12 spaces will be fully available from December 2. We are also erecting signs to direct people to either Wenlock Street Car Park or High Town Road Car Park as alternative parking locations.

"Once finished, the council will monitor usage of the new car park on a regular basis to assess the level of demand. In addition we will be carrying out a review of parking around the Taylor Street area.

"The council is committed to investing in redundant sites throughout Luton to meet the needs of locals. In High Town in particular we have recently invested £275K in improved street lighting and additional money to facilitate public realm improvements at the Junction of High Town Road and Burr Street."