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Hereford Old Market shopping center could lose parking spaces

MORE than 100 parking spaces could be lost at the Old Market shopping center in Hereford if MandM Direct is allowed to move into the former Debenhams store.

Planning documents reveal that 119 of the 606 parking spaces at the mall, which opened in 2014, could be reserved for MandM employees and exempt from charges.

British Land revealed last week that it wanted to turn the upper floors of the former Debenhams store into offices for MandM Direct, with other parties interested in ground floor space.

Mike Tomkins, chairman of MandM Direct, said the business was a major local success story and that, should Herefordshire Council grant planning permission, the move would “support the next phase of the business’ journey”.

That planning application has now gone to council, which sees British Land, the centre’s owner, amending a condition of the shopping centre’s consent.

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And this condition is pre-requisite to occupation of any part of the development, details of the operation, management and charging rates of the proposed car park should be sent to council.

Documents reveal that employees of the clothing retailer, with offices in Leominster and a warehouse in Moreton-on-Lugg, would be allowed to park for free on weekdays, so 119 spaces would be for this purpose – 19.6% of the total number of the spaces.

A survey carried out by consultants reveals that during the peak demand period, at 1 p.m. on Thursday May 12, there were 195 standard spaces and 16 disabled spaces available in the car park.

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The vast majority of them were on the upper deck of the multi-storey car park, where the majority of MandM Direct staff are expected to park.

“It is therefore not considered that the removal of a load on 119 spaces on weekdays will have a significant impact on the current operation of the car park,” consultants said.

There would also be 40 bicycle parking spaces on the ground floor.

Planning documents also say that if planners granted permission, it would give surrounding downtown businesses a boost, with around 250 workers using shops, services and other facilities during their working day.

Comments on planning request 221678 can be made until June 25, with planners setting July 15 as a target date for a decision.

Deena S. Hawkins

The author Deena S. Hawkins