Pencombe Parish Council has secured permission for a new 26-space public car park next to Pencombe and Little Cowarne parish hall near Bromyard. While the council believes the car park will enhance the village's aesthetic and safety, not all residents are on board.
The council's intention, as outlined in the planning application, is to "improve the street scene by removing cars from the roadside whilst providing a safer, larger parking area". They emphasised that the goal isn't to increase traffic but to address the current issue of on-street parked cars, which they described as "unsightly" and a "hindrance to through traffic".
Local institutions, including the school and church, which have been grappling with parking constraints, are expected to benefit from this development. The application further highlighted that the car park would serve the hall, one of Herefordshire's largest, which can accommodate up to 120 seated guests and 150 standing. Emily Barrett, a trustee of the hall, voiced her support, noting that the lack of parking has deterred potential bookings. Simon Wells echoed this sentiment, suggesting that the new facility would prevent disputes arising from blocked driveways during hall events.
However, the proposal hasn't been without its critics. Alison Maynard expressed concerns over a potential increase in traffic, labelling the plan as "ill-thought-out on many levels". Andrew Mottram, a former chair of the parish hall trustees, felt the proposal exaggerated the parking issues and raised concerns about the potential dangers it might introduce. He also highlighted environmental concerns, particularly the removal of a stretch of ancient hedge.
The car park, which will be unlit, is set to feature permeable tarmac and will be bordered by a newly planted hedge. The development will necessitate the removal of three trees.
The planning permission granted comes with stipulations, including the need for a landscape ecological management plan. Additionally, provisions must be made for disabled parking, electric vehicle charging points, and cycle spaces.