WINCHESTER civic chiefs agreed plans for a major renovation of the district’s car parks.

The council’s plans would see £778,000 spent over the next two years to improve parking infrastructure in the hope of ensuring that car parks are attractive and well used.

The total programme amounts of £7,225,000, but much of this will come from earmarked reserves.

Proposals include coach parking moving from Worthy Lane to the South Park and Ride costing almost £400,000, work to be completed at the at Winchester Sport and Leisure Centre, decked car park at the former Vaultex site – with a total budget of £6.327m, and continued improvements to Chesil Multi-Storey.

New parking will also be developed in Alresford providing around 50 off-street spaces at the Dean, which is estimated to cost about £1m.

Improved car park signs and cycle parking provision will also be erected, along with upgrades of pay machines as part of the move towards cashless parking and upgrading that CCTV software which covers Winchester city centre.

The major works were discussed at a meeting of the authority’s cabinet on Wednesday last week.

Campbell William, the council’s service lead for environmental services, said: "The move to RingGo for the new phone payment system across Winchester which was introduced in November and is working well so far, and we are now looking to build on this by further improving the car park surfaces, the signs and the use of pay machines across the district so it enables people to use the car parks better and in a more efficient way.”

The programme was met with mixed support from opposition councillors, but concerns were raised about the amount of money that is earmarked for the major programme of works.

Cllr Hugh Lumby said: "It is shame that otherwise the market towns seem again to be ignored. Other parts of this report seem confused and ill-considered. First we are being told that the council coffers are bare due to Covid, that we need to save money where we can.

“We are told that one of the reasons for the shortfall is the collapse in income from car parks during the pandemic.

“We are told we should take the opportunity to reimagine ourselves and that we should projects like Station Approach on hold whilst we await the outcome and yet here is a proposal to spend about £7.6million over a couple of years on car parks.”

But cabinet member for Service Quality and Transformation Cllr Martin Tod said: “We are talking about initiatives across the district in terms of our approach. Indeed, we have an entire schedule of meetings set up with the market towns in order to discuss where we go next and how we can help, work together on the parking in their towns in the future.

“We are serious about our collaboration with parish and local business colleagues across the district.”

The meeting was also told that some of the money for the programme is coming from the Local Enterprise Partnership.

The programme will now go before full council to be approved.