A LANDSCAPED piece of land at a Basingstoke retail park is being dug up to provide additional car parking spaces.

An application has been approved to turn the grassed area outside Costa Coffee and Nando’s at St Michael’s Retail Park into a 30-minute short stay car park, providing 18 spaces, two of which will be disabled.

As part of the plans, access to the retail park from Winchester Road is also being widened to include two lanes.

The original plans for the site, which opened in October 2018, restricted access to a single lane because of concerns raised by Hampshire County Council regarding the potential for traffic to back-up onto and block Winchester Road.

However, since the site opened the applicant has been monitoring the effectiveness of the access and parking arrangements, and identified concerns with the safety of the single lane access and the lack of dedicated parking in front of Units 8 to 11, two of which are vacant and the other two occupied by Nando’s and Costa Coffee.

The applicant stated: “Since the retail park opened our client has received feedback from existing tenants and their customers complaining that the Winchester Road single lane access is restrictive and difficult to manoeuvre, which is causing issues for vehicular movements into the retail park, reducing its attractiveness.

“The feedback has been that due to the narrow width, many car-borne visitors are missing the turning into the retail park, meaning they have to follow the road into the Brighton Hill Retail Park, to the west, then back out again, past the McDonalds Drive Thru. They then attempt to enter the site via a right-turn manoeuvre. This was a manoeuvre that the access was specifically designed to discourage. The introduction of a two-lane access will rectify this by providing additional visibility to ensure safe access when entering from Winchester Road.”

A survey on a Saturday between 10am and 4pm showed that 96 vehicles missed the access to the retail park.

The applicant received feedback from two perspective tenants for the currently empty Units 9 and 10, saying they will not commit to occupying them unless car parking spaces are provided in front.

As previously reported in the Gazette, Greggs is now set to move into one of these units.

The applicant said: “To avoid prolonged long-term vacancy, the client is keen to meet their requirements, which in turn, will bring forward investment and job creation.”