Our local shops face growing competition from other shopping centres and the internet. Maintaining and improving convenient access to the shops, whether by car, bus, bicycle or on foot will be of great importance in preserving the viability of shops in Old Haslemere, Wey Hill and Hindhead and Beacon Hill.
Given Haslemere’s hilly terrain, the distances which some have to travel and an infrequent bus service, the car is the main form of access to the shops. Although there is some on-street shopper parking in all shopping areas, the car parks at Chestnut Avenue and the High Street in Old Haslemere and at the Fairground and Tesco in Wey Hill play a vital role in providing access to our shops .These use old-fashioned coin operated ticket machines which either require shoppers to have the correct change or irritate them because they have to over-pay. The charges also discourage convenience shopping for one or two items. It is probable that these parking difficulties will deter shoppers, contributing to the growing financial pressures on our shops. Furthermore, as the town’s population grows, traffic growth on our roads will make walking and cycling within and through the town increasingly unattractive.
To improve the visitor and shopper experience and so support local businesses:
• Should we support the use of public funds (perhaps from Community Infrastructure Levy payments) to fund ‘Green Route’ initiatives to achieve a better balance between car access and bus, pedestrian and cycle access? These would improve the current network of routes for pedestrians and cyclists, linking Old Haslemere, Wey Hill and the Station with the outlying settlements of Hindhead, Beacon Hill and Grayswood and the countryside beyond.
• Should we seek the separation of pedestrians and cyclists from car traffic where advantageous, together with progressively improved signage, surfacing and drainage?
• Should we propose the introduction of new ticket machines or payment mechanisms that make payment more convenient, such as allowing the use of contactless debit cards, credit cards or mobile phones. Such methods could allow the application of discounts for Haslemere residents or free parking periods.
• Should we propose the development of a new purpose-built route linking Old Haslemere to Wey Hill via a new segregated route for pedestrians and cyclists helping to unify these two parts of Haslemere? This route would be purpose-built, flat and wide, designed for a wide range of non-car users such as cyclists, parents with prams, walkers and mobility scooter users.
What do you think? Let us know your views by completing the survey you that Royal Mail will deliver to you during the week commencing June 23rd 2014!
Meanwhile look out for our next article that will explain the aims of the survey.