Car parking charges will have to be introduced at Merry Hill before any further retail developments can take place there. This is an unavoidable planning condition resulting from the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy – the key planning document against which local plans and development proposals are tested. Suggestions that Westfield, the managers of Merry Hill, had no intention of implementing the charges are not correct. However there are many leasing issues to be dealt with before such charges can be introduced and as such no firm date for implementation can be given, but it is definitely not imminent.
Of course it is important that the impact of such an introduction of car parking is carefully planned for. The council and Westfield have been working on this for some time. At the September meeting of the Town Centre Partnership a small working party which included representatives of traders, the police and community groups was created to look at minimising any negative impact on the local population. A further report should be available at the next BHTCP meeting on 5th November.