Disgruntled shoppers have given an overwhelming thumbs-down to changes to parking restrictions which will “kill off trade for good”.
Hundreds of people have vowed to boycott Borehamwood Shopping Park, in Theobold Street, after a new two hour-time limit was introduced at its car park.
Not a single resident was consulted about the changes, but car park owner Jones LaSalle (JLL) says it is in fact for a trial period, although signs fail to mention this.
Those who flout the rules could end up paying fines of £85 to Parking Eye, or end up in court.
‘The shops can take a running jump’
Drivers were previously able to park in the area for three hours a day – and many feel the new rule is a “slap in the face”.
Esther Evans, 70, of Claredon Road, said: “There’s a fantastic atmosphere here – it’s almost like you’re on holiday.
“The stress of only having two hours will take all the joy out of coming here. It will put an unfair pressure on shoppers.
“This will be their downfall. It will kill off trade for good.”
Stratfield Road resident Elsa Baker, 79, added: “All these shops can take a running jump – they can keep their shopping park.
“What a selfish way to repay shoppers who have been coming here for almost 30 years. They don’t have a single care how much this could hurt the area.”
‘What about the new Debenhams?’
The popular shopping park has been around since the late 1980s and stores include New Look, Outfit, Argos, Lidl and a Costa Coffee, with a new Debenhams set to open later this year.
Nearby Shenley Road has become somewhat of a ‘ghost town’ in the last few years – but many had high hopes the new store would help revive the area.
Kate Bhamjee, who lives in Edgware, said: “Everyone has been looking forward to the new Debenhams opening up – but we won't bother now.”
‘Ghost town high street’
Hertsmere Mayor Councillor Paul Morris has pledged to help turn Shenley Road back into a community high street, but he fears the restrictions will put his plans in jeapordy.
He said: “This will be severely detrimental to the whole community. They are creating an environment that says you can only park here if you’re shopping in our park.
“They ought to have a social conscience as well as a commercial conscience on the impact of their facility within the community.”
Concerns about effects on disabled people
People are also now banned from returning to the car park within three hours of leaving on the same day, no matter how long they have parked for.
Mr G Kelly told the Borehamwood Times he often drops his disabled wife to allow her to spend a few hours shopping before returning a couple of hours later.
Angela Cooklin added: “I have a disabled child, so the last thing I want to do is clock-watch while having a coffee. I’ll shop elsewhere from the stress of it.”
Many also use the car park to make vital doctors visits – but it is feared they will be deterred from keeping appointments.
‘Parking meters would make life easier’
Many support the idea of parking meters, and said they would be prepared to pay a reasonable charge to exceed the two hour limit.
Vanessa Christison said: “It would make life a lot easier if they could pop money in the meter, as people love coming here. Are they trying to punish us?”
'We welcome shoppers'
A statement from JLL said the private car park is only designed to serve the retail park.
It encourages shoppers who want to visit Shenley Road to pay and display in The Point car park.
It added: “It has become apparent that customers of the retail park have been unable to use the car park during busy periods due to misuse from non-customers.
“Through the reduction of parking times we expect spaces to be available for customers of the park. We welcome shoppers, and our customers are still able to park for free for a maximum of two hours.
“This change is for a trial period and will be monitored closely.”