With the town in line for two parking developments in the next few months, Haslemere Chamber is watching for signs of change in car park usage – and footfall in the main shopping areas.

The long-awaited but controversial Station car park is due to open its two levels at the end of the week – possibly relieving some of the weekday pressure on town car parks and kerbside spaces.

Meanwhile, Waverley Borough Council is finalising plans for additional payment options – potentially more convenience for motorists – at some of its car parks next year.

Haslemere Chamber President David Goddin says: “Neither of these initiatives represents a quick fix for the parking and footfall needs of the town, but I think they will be steps in the right direction for our members, their customers and the commuters.

“With Christmas and New Year imminent, seasonal factors could cloud early judgment of the overall impact of the Station car park. However, I would expect any interesting trends to have started to become apparent by next Spring.”

That is also when in-town parking enters a new era with the gradual introduction of additional car park payment options borough-wide.

Coinciding with the upgrading of existing ticket machines to accept the new £1 coin from April, the council is modernising facilities in its busiest car parks to allow payment by card – in addition to cash. The RingGo pay-by-phone option will continue to be available for all Waverley car parks.

Plans for the upgrade were disclosed by Richard Homewood, Waverley’s Head of Environmental Services, at a meeting of Waverley chamber presidents.

The first Haslemere site to see the additional facilities will be the High Street car park. The new facility will be switched on after a trial period in Cranleigh to prove the pay-on-exit principle that Cranleigh Chamber has campaigned for over the past two years.

Motorists who choose to use this ticketless system will need to provide card details and car registration number on arrival. Before they leave, they simply re-insert their bank card for the system to debit their account appropriately.

As with the current RingGo option, car park inspectors will use a hand-held device to check whether vehicles without tickets are parked legally.

David Goddin says: “I welcome the use of new technology to streamline the payment process. It could encourage shoppers to spend longer in the shops, without the worry of a ticket expiring.

“I would have preferred to see the new facility also in the Chestnut Avenue car park, but understand that this may be introduced at a later date.”

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