COMMUTERS could see 3,000 new park and ride spaces built on green land on the edge of the city or near a major motorway bottleneck, under a new policy being discussed by civic chiefs.

City councillors, who were positive about the initial plans being put forward, discussed the possibilities at a meeting of the health and environment policy committee, which was discussing the council’s parking strategy for the next ten years.

According to a report that went before the committee, initial plans are looking for ways to improve the city’s air quality and meet the goal of becoming a carbon neutral district by 2030.

Two of the ways suggested in the report were installing 50 electric vehicle charging points in the park and ride facilities, and increasing their capacity by up to 3,000 spaces – whether that be through expanding existing park and rides, or building new sites.

Potential sites listed in the report include Andover Road North; Easton Lane, which leads onto junction nine of the M3 at Winnall; and Alresford Road, which heads out of the city towards the A31.

However, space on the A31 appears to be limited to green land in the countryside. If the Easton Lane site was chosen, it would likely come after the major changes set to be made to junction nine by Highways England in 2021/22.

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The move has been cautiously welcomed by a leading climate change campaigner in the district, so long as it is a short-term solution.

Chris Gillham, of Winchester Friends of the Earth, said: “In the long term, park and ride isn’t a good solution. In some cases it actually increases car journeys, it just puts them somewhere else.

“Some additional park and ride would be desirable in the short term, until we can get habits to change. Really, the council needs to think about conventional public transport.”

Turning to the Alresford Road site, Mr Gillham added: “I’m not aware that there’s much traffic that comes from the A31.

“I can’t really see any obvious place to put it, it almost has to be a greenfield site.”

Mr Gillham disputed the city council’s claim that extra capacity was needed at the park and ride sites. He said: “There quite a lot of space that is not being used.”

According to the report, Winchester’s park and ride spaces have a “typical occupancy level” of 86 per cent.

The report also states the parking strategy is being worked on in conjunction with other council schemes, including Saxon Gate, also known as Silver Hill 2, and Station Approach, which will have an impact on the parking provision.

It states that under Saxon Gate there will be a potential reduction on The Broadway, and the removal of the Tanner Street/Friarsgate car park and Upper Brook Street car park. Part of the Middle Brook Street car park will also be removed when the bus station relocates.

Turning to Station Approach, the reported added the Gladstone Street car park would be lost, but other changes in the city would see more park and ride spaces at the Vaultex site in Barfield Close, and 200 new spaces as part of the Kings Barton development.

The policy report comes a few months after the council approved the Winchester Movement strategy, which sets out how transport would in the city will be structured over the next few decades.

That document also focused on moving parking out of the city centre, and putting more resources into the park and ride facilities.