The residential streets off the Walton Road were never designed for cars. Too narrow and with limited off-street parking these urban thoroughfares are often difficult to navigate for both pedestrians and vehicles.

Parking with two wheels on the pavement can be the only option if sufficient space is to be left for emergency vehicle access, but this means that pedestrians with buggies can be forced onto the road. The popularity of on-line shopping has brought a host of delivery vans all times of day and night to negotiate the congested twists and turns on route to your front door. Serving pedestrian, parking and transport needs is becoming increasingly difficult.

The residents of School Road, a narrow cul-de-sac close to the shops have come together with a plan to ease the problem. They have canvassed the neighbours on applying for a permit parking scheme to allow only the residents of School Road and Challoner’s Close to park. There are currently no parking restrictions on this road apart from the double then single yellow lines on entry. Neighbours who live above the shops, those who work in the shops and those who visit the shops are able to park freely.

A tight bend has proved difficult to negotiate for refuse collection and other large vehicle access, particularly when cars are parked on the advisory white hatch lines or two cars are parked fully in the road. Residents of Challoner’s Close, the cul-de-sac which spurs off the end on School Road have reported that deliveries have not taken place and the fire service have repeatedly failed to gain full access. In the Grenfell fire tragedy, the fire service was delayed by parked vehicles and we must learn the lessons from that disaster.

The new Elmbridge Parking Review, which is available online, plans to make the tight corner in School Road and the corner into Challoner’s Close a ‘no stopping at any time’ zone. This would clearly ease the access problem but at busy times, often overnight when all the residents are home, the no stopping zone would displace up to five vehicles. Compounding the problem in School Road is the prospect of vehicles from the new development in Hansler Grove using the street when their allocated parking spots are full.

The parking within the development will be monitored with parking permits while the parking outside in School Road is currently free to all comers. Without action the parking issue is going to reach frustration levels as new residents compete with existing residents for a reduced number of spaces. The Elmbridge Parking Review is good at preventing parking in congestion hotspots but does not attempt to deal with the problem of displaced vehicles as it re-draws the parking landscape.

In order to prevent displaced cars simply cluttering up a neighbouring street it may be pragmatic to end parking fees for the public carpark off the Walton Road. Since the parking charges were introduced this sizeable space has been under-utilized with just a spattering of cars parked at most times of the day. The free parking on a Saturday is complicated by the need to purchase and display a ticket. This is a deterrent for people who want to quickly stop, shop and drop.

Free parking for all would help to invigorate the Walton shops and be of particular value to those offering services such as Moving Body fitness classes, hair or nail bars. Residents parking permits should offset the fall in revenue with each permit giving the specific street name rather than falling within a wider zone. All the displaced vehicles from shop workers, shop visitors and flat dwellers would be able to park in the Walton Road carpark for free at any time. Ensuring that one side of the road allowed pavement parking and the other side did not would ensure that at least one side was free for pedestrians at all times. Putting up restrictions without solutions is really not the answer and as many people will have no doubt missed the deadline for submitting to the consultation there should be a local meeting called to discuss this issue further.

Della Reynolds
Molesey Matters Roving Reporter