Four months on – no date set for Hitchin car park reopening

Lairage Car Park

Lairage Car Park - Credit: Archant

A car park which was meant to allow parents to drop off their children to school has be closed for more then four months with no indications as to when it will reopen.

The top floor of the Lairage multi-storey car park – to be used by parents whose children attend Samuel Lucas JMI School in Hitchin while renovation work is carried out to expand the school – has been out of use since October.

Parents have previously complained to the Comet that the parking situation at the school is a “nightmare” as a result, with restrictions outside the school to allow for deliveries causing further problems.

In November North Herts District Council (NHDC) – which owns the car park in Bedford Road – said the top floor had to be fenced off as a “precautionary measure while further survey work is carried out” but the issue has yet to be resolved.

Cllr Tom Brindley, NHDC portfolio holder for planning, transport and enterprise, said: “Surveys identified that reinforcement was not continuous at joints within the concrete deck of the top floor of the car park. However we would like to reassure visitors that the other floors of the car park are perfectly safe to use.

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“Further remedial works will be carried out during the programmed resurfacing project. We are currently planning the works and hope to schedule the first phase during the school Easter holidays to minimise disruption, however the programme is still to be finalised.”

The school’s expansion, which will double the capacity, was given the go-ahead on the condition adequate parking would be provided at the multi-storey car park, which is a short walk from the school in Gaping Lane.

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Resident Robin Dartington, who is a member of Keep Hitchin Special, who was opposed to the expansion, said: “This ongoing closure of a third of the spaces in the Lairage is very unfortunate.

“Planning permission for the temporary classroom at Samuel Lucas school was only given on condition the parents driving children to school could park free in the Lairage to avoid the danger caused by jamming cars into the congested streets around the school entrance.

“While the 50 empty spaces needed in the Lairage are not available, the planning condition is not being met and occupying the temporary classroom is technically illegal.

“It will be much worse when the new permanent school buildings are completed in the summer as they will not be legally occupied unless the county council has made arrangements for parents parking. NHDC only agreed use of the Lairage up to July and should not extend the concession as the spare space in the Lairage will be needed for commuter parking if a parking scheme for west Hitchin is adopted along the lines currently out to consultation.”

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