Temporary park and ride facilities could plug the gap

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By Dorchester People | Thursday, January 06, 2011, 11:00

TEMPORARY park and ride facilities are being investigated to plug the gap until a new permanent facility can be opened to serve Dorset’s county town.

A site at Monkey’s Jump is being recommended as the preferred site for a permanent park and ride facility for Dorchester in a report submitted to West Dorset District Council’s executive committee next Tuesday.

But it is estimated that it will take more than two years to acquire the land, gain planning permission and construct, and it will not open until 2013 at the earliest.

In the meantime, officers are investigating temporary sites at the Dorchester showground and Kingston Maurward College to cater for cars coming from the east of Dorchester.

West Dorset District Council’s technical services manager Steve Woollard, in his report, says: “The council is also investigating the possibility of using the new Mount Pleasant park and ride in Weymouth and link road planned to open this spring.

“A shuttle bus service for council staff from the Weymouth area will run to Dorchester Monday to Friday, with additional buses on Wednesday to take overflow market visitors.”

The report presents the findings of a site assessment study carried out jointly with Dorset County Council which identifies the site.

It recommends that £120,000 is allocated towards the preparation of a detailed planning application.

Mr Woollard’s report says: “The council is committed to reducing long-stay parking and commuter traffic in Dorchester town centre, and the temporary site at the Dorchester Town Football Club is not large enough or available as a permanent site.

“It has been established that a park and ride site for around 950 cars, including the 217 spaces currently available at the Dorchester Town Football Club site, would be required by 2017, subject to residential and commercial developments such as out of town homes, Brewery Square and Charles Street coming forward.”

Twenty potential sites for park and ride were identified and an initial sifting exercise was undertaken by the consultant Buppo Harold taking into consideration transport and highway merits including traffic access to sites and weighted journey distance and times.

A priority was for ease of access to bus services and provision of a cycle route as an alternative.

The list was reduced to six which were assessed for landscape and visual impact, ground and surface water, and more detailed highways and transport issues including access and bus and cycle priority measures.

The results reported in September 2010 recommended that two sites go forward to the master planning stage at Monkey’s Jump and Stadium Roundabout.

Key points to emerge have been the relative costs of the two sites – £2,392,000 at Monkey’s Jump and £4,004,000 at Stadium – and capacities.

The full 950 spaces can be sited at Monkey’s Jump, with the advantage of a McDonald’s restaurant nearby to provide refreshments. But there is only room for 882 spaces at the Stadium Roundabout, leaving no room for public toilets or refreshment facilities.

Estimated travel times into the town centre are also quicker from Monkey’s Jump, regardless of direction of travel into Dorchester, and significant drainage issues are associated with the Stadium Roundabout site.

Both sites are farmed under tenancy, owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but the landscape and archaeological impact issues are greater at Monkey’s Jump.

      

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