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180403 | The Sainsburys P&R site is now in use primarily as a IOS visitor parking site with IOS Parking Ltd having the licence f

Dick Cliffe

The Sainsburys P&R site is now in use primarily as a IOS visitor parking site with IOS Parking Ltd having the licence from CC to operate the site.

The current solution is a compromise. It is not obvious that there is a better one given the absence of any permanent subsidy to operate the site as a conventional P&R. The important point is that the P&R site has been bought by CC (for one pound from BIH ) and turned into a car & coach park at Sainsbury’s expense. There was a high risk of losing over 2 million pounds worth of land and construction costs by squabbling over the very obvious weaknesses in the S106 agreed in May 2012.

For those who want to know more read on (it is long story summarized here).

The S106 agreement provided the land (from BIH) and funds (Sainsburys up to 1.2 million pounds) for a ‘Park & Ride’ but there was never ongoing funding to subsidize regular and frequent dedicated buses (a subsidy would be unavoidable). Users would have to rely on the routine bus services that serve Jelbert Way. There was a small S106 contribution to subsidize tickets on these regular bus services but the amount was sufficient for only a year or so.

Both the land and the funding came with claw back provisions such that if the site was not built and used as a Park & Ride the land and the funding had to be returned (the 1.2 million pounds was paid over to Cornwall Council when Sainsbury’s opened).

The option of diverting the 1.2 million pounds to higher priority Town Centre projects was explored by local Cornwall Councillors (led by Tim Dwelly) as the S106 agreement is ambiguous about the use of “unspent funds”. The legal advice was that the P&R contribution could only be spent on a P&R project.

The urgency over getting the site built and operating has been to avoid losing the land and funding. Once built the asset would exist for the benefit of the Town in the future even if there was no pressing need for a P&R in the short term.
Cornwall Council advertised for an operator for the site. The advert allowed the site to be used for conventional P&R, IOS parking and seasonal overflow from Sainsburys (Xmas additional parking). There were several tenders submitted. This tendering exercise was terminated/suspended when the project was amended (see next para).

At the request of the business community (Chamber of Commerce) the original 240 car park design was amended to 168 car plus spaces for 8 coaches. This solution provided much needed parking for coaches but reduced the attractiveness of the site to a potential P&R operator.
The site remained unused for months after completion because of a legal objection (presumed to come Bolitho Estates who placed a covenant on the land when they originally sold it to BIH for use as a car park). The legal issue has been resolved.

It is questionable that a viable business case exists for a conventional P&R in Penzance at present. Regular commuters have found places to park in Town either for free for at low cost. Visitors are less price conscious and would use a P&R only as a last resort (they have no choice in the matter in St Ives).

IOS visitor parking has become a problem in the Town with development sites being developed (Lidls being the most recent). It is not in the Town’s interest to have IOS visitors park long term in the Town’s car parks or on streets.
The new site has to operate as a P&R car park (for IOS visitors or Town Centre visitors) or Cornwall Council will be in breach of the S106 agreement.

Cornwall Council’s “Just Park’’ scheme (launch is imminent) will allow commuters to park in the Harbour Car Park for 96 pence a day or St Erbyns at under 70 pence a day. Commuters have to buy 47 pounds of credits up front but the credits last forever. This scheme would undermine any all year around P&R scheme for Penzance.

As previously stated the the current solution is a compromise and it is not obvious that there is a better one given the absence of any permanent subsidy to operate the site as a conventional P&R.




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