HUDDERSFIELD must welcome motorists!
That's the message from a major survey on town centre competitiveness.
The survey, by Huddersfield-based urban planner John Lockwood, said that providing safe, user-friendly car parks and setting "reasonable" parking charges were vital to encourage more affluent shoppers and boost store takings.
The survey comes just days after the publication of bold plans to pedestrianise more of Huddersfield town centre.
Milton Keynes-based town planning and urban design specialists David Lock Associates called for vehicles to be banned from some streets.
He also urged that some other areas - including two busy sections of the ring road - be made "pedestrian-priority".
But Mr Lockwood said moves by planners and policy-makers to limit car use were "strikingly at odds" with the popularity of the car among consumers, "who value the freedom that personal mobility brings".
The Lockwood Survey rated Huddersfield highly in eight of 12 indicators used to judge the appeal of a town centre.
The eight categories were: festivals and events, Christmas planning, marketing and promotions, public transport, environment, street cleaning, security and policing.
But it rated poorly for access to parking and badly for short-stay parking, Sunday and late-night trading and public toilets.
The survey said Huddersfield town centre had 5,010 parking spaces, but only 3,010 - 60% - were within five minutes of the main shopping areas.
Some 2,360 spaces were pay and display, but only 1,640 spaces were monitored by closed-circuit TV.
Just 650 spaces were pay-on-exit - the method preferred by motorists.
The survey also said high charges for long-stay parking deterred people from coming to the town for longer shopping trips.
Mr Lockwood said market forces dictated that shoppers who could not use their cars to get in to town centres would simply shop elsewhere.
Mr Lockwood added: "The key questions for many towns is `are shoppers deterred from using the high street by inconvenient and expensive parking?'
"Failure to recognise and provide what consumers want will have serious implications for retail and commercial activities.
"Consumers will gravitate to more accommodating locations - and there will be plenty of them."
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