Despite current challenging economic conditions, the town Centre is still successful. In September 2012, following discussion with local shops and businesses, and taking into account the views of residents and shoppers, an action plan to maintain the vibrancy of the town centre was agreed. It identified a number of areas for improvement, including parking and availability of information about different aspects of the town centre. Some of these actions have been implemented, such as the removal of the £25 charge after five hours in the three pay on foot car parks. We have recently adopted a new Fareham town centre parking strategy to support the town centre's economy and provide parking as efficiently as possible. It will be implemented in April 2013. Each car park will be designated as inner or outer and visitors will be able to choose whether they want to pay a higher or lower hourly rate depending on how close to the shops they want to park. The five hour limit is being removed from all car parks so that visitors can park for as long as they wish. Malthouse Lane and Trinity Street will be designated as outer car parks and will have a cheaper hourly rate than currently to benefit independent shops at the west end of West Street. There is no increase in parking costs in other car parks.
Other things we are discussing with local businesses and progressing:
A new town centre website will bring together information about attractions and its offer as a shopping and leisure destination. We are also working on a new long term strategy and development plan for the town centre to help make it an even more attractive, lively and vibrant place. It includes developments at key destinations and a greater emphasis on the quality of public streets, spaces and buildings. This was part of the draft development sites and policies plan on which a public consultation was recently undertaken.