Car parking in Harleston will remain free at the point of use – after the East of England Co-operative agreed to pay £30,000 a year to a new, long-term lease for the next 10 years.
The future of the car parks in Bullock Fair Close and Broad Street have been up for deliberation for the best part of 18 months.
They had been free at the point of use, with Redenhall with Harleston Town Council paying a fee of £17,156 per year, made up of council funds and contributions from local parishes and businesses.
But last yea, South Norfolk Council, which says it does not make a profit from managing the district’s car parks, announced its intention to bring Harleston’s facilities back under its control, and potentially implement charges.
Redenhall with Harleston Town Council has agreed to pay £37,000 per year for the lease, and to put aside £13,000 per year to pay for future maintenance and resurfacing work.
As part of the agreement, the lease cost will rise annually with the retail price index (RPI).
The cost of the lease will increase annually, which Harleston Town Council will have to consider when setting the annual preceptFrances Bickley, chairman, Redenhall with Harleston Town Council
The Diss Express understands that the town council will be seeking contributions from businesses and surrounding parishes, as it has done in previous years.
The East of England Co-op, which will be opening a new store at the home of the former Budgens shop in Bullock Fair Close, has come to the town’s rescue.
Frances Bickley, town council chairman, said: “The town council is extremely grateful to the East of England Co-operative Society, which is generously contributing a significant amount towards the annual cost of the lease.
“If it were not for its involvement, we would not have been able to enter into this agreement without committing the council to over £600,000 of costs over the life of the lease.
“The cost of the lease will increase annually, which Harleston Town Council will have to consider when setting the annual precept.”
Nick Denny, joint chief executive for the East of England Co-op, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Harleston Town Council and that customers and visitors to this wonderful town will continue to be able to park free for charge.
“We’ve been serving the community of Harleston for many years as a retailer and are pleased that a positive outcome has been reached for residents, visitors and local businesses alike.”
In September, three options of the future of the car parks were put to residents.
In the advisory vote, 345 of 622 votes cast supported the principle of negotiating a new long-term lease with South Norfolk Council.