A MUCH-USED car park in Wokingham town centre is to close at midnight on bank holiday Monday, just weeks after planning permission to turn it into flats was refused by Wokingham Borough Council.
As reported in The Wokingham Paper last month, there have been rumours circulating for weeks that the Euro Car Park in Denmark Street was to shut – but the company has not made any comment.
The Wokingham Borough Council-owned car park at the same location is unaffected.
Under the proposals for the site the car park and adjoining buildings would have been turned into 77 homes.
It was rejected as Wokingham Borough Council’s planning department felt that the ‘size, scale, massing and layout’ of the development would result ‘in harm to the character of the area’.
The decision was published by the council on Wednesday, July 31.
The scheme outraged residents and councillors alike, with the council receiving hundreds of complaints to the idea.
Had it been approved, it would have seen the large space in a conservation area turned into the apartments, built in three buildings.
The planning officers noted that the scheme failed to provide a clear and convincing justification for the loss of town-centre car parking which “is necessary to support the planned growth and renaissance of Wokingham town centre and maintain its position in the Berkshire retail hierarchy”.
There are calls being made for the land used by Euro Car Park to be bought by Wokingham Borough Council so it remains open as a car park.
Cllr Lindsay Ferris, leader of Wokingham’s Liberal Democrats, said: “I have just asked Wokingham Borough Council to provide temporary signs at the council-owned car park explaining the position to residents.
“We can foresee a lot of confusion and annoyance next week.
“The Lib Dem Group feel it is vital that a car park is retained in this location otherwise it could have a significant impact on the Town Centre as it would impact the number of visitors to Wokingham.
“We do not believe the Carnival Pool Car Park will be suitable for all residents/visitors impacted due to its location and overall capacity. We will be urging WBC to do what it can on this issue.”
Cllr Gregor Murray, Conservative councillor for Norreys Ward and executive member for climate emergency, said in a post on social media: “This is absolutely disgraceful.
“A landowner closing a town car park in retaliation for not being granted planning permission to build overpriced flats on the site.
“They should be ashamed of themselves. Wokingham Borough Conservatives and I will be fighting to get this car park back open and to hold the landowner to account. Behaviour like this is simply not acceptable.”
The Wokingham Paper has made numerous attempts to obtain a statement from Euro Car Parks.
The only response at the time of writing has been automated emails: “This is an automated response to confirm that we have received your email and will update you accordingly.
“You can expect a reply by email within the next 10 working days. If the PCN is with Euro Car Parks, you can expect an appeal response within 35 days.”