Banbury Gateway proving popular – but anger over lack of spaces

Banbury Gateway Retail Park, parking. NNL-151124-160132009
Banbury Gateway Retail Park, parking. NNL-151124-160132009

Furious shoppers have hit out at planners for failing to provide enough parking for the new Banbury Gateway shopping park.

Scores of angry people, forced to wait in long queues to get to the new shops, wrote to the Banbury Guardian and went on social media to complain.

While motorists waited in queues or drove around the car park looking for a space, there were accusations of staff using the majority of the 564 spaces, and even workers parking at Gateway all day and taking the free shuttle bus to town to avoid parking charges.

There were also complaints of no signs to the mall.

The Gateway said it was looking to resolve the issues.

Spokesman Jo Francis said: “We are actively reviewing our car park strategy for the benefit of our retailers and customers.

“We are already in discussion with transport providers to see how we can encourage greater use of public transport and we will also be looking at car sharing and how to maximise the space.”

Cherwell District Council said its advice from the highways authority was that the plans for access were adequate.

Shopper Caroline Long of Sibford Ferris said: “The car parking is woefully inadequate. The car park was full at lunchtime on Friday and I gave up.

“If the car park can’t cope with a Friday lunchtime in November in term time, how on eath is it going to cope with weekends nearer Christmas?

“The queues will extend for a mile either side - including to the motorway - and Banbury will be in complete gridlock.”

A lively discussion on the Banburyshire Info Facebook page predicted mayhem with the cut-price Black Friday shopping day tomorrow and the hectic Christmas rush.

Ken Hopkins said: “Traffic management should have been one of the Gateways priorities, but sadly it was looked over in my view. One point of access was always going to cause a bottleneck effect.”

Lisa Harries said: “We went there, drove round for ten minutes and left - complete nightmare. We are going to stick with Milton Keynes for now.”

Reports on social media said a shuttle bus, free for the first six weeks, was hardly used, with the buses going to and fro almost empty, although bus drivers reported taking workers from Gateway to town and back at the beginning and end of the working day.

Deb Hunt said: “My daughter has allowed an extra hour to get into Gateway ahead of her shift because yesterday it took her 45 minutes to park.

“It needs a separate staff parking area and the main parking needs to be limited to three hours.”

Val Ingram said: “There needs to be staff parking to the rear and another entrance other than off the motorway. Would it be possible to link from the bottom of Hanwell Fields roundabout, where they are currently erecting warehouses?”

Cllr Michael Gibbard, Cherwell District Council’s lead member for planning said: “In granting planning permission for the Gateway development, the impact of increased vehicles was a key consideration.

“The county council, as highway authority, raised no objections and commented that the travel plan submitted by the developers in support of the application, was in line with the level of parking proposed.

“There is clearly a huge level of initial interest in the new development and issues associated with the management of the car park, which the developer may wish to address.”

Emily Reed for Oxfordshire County Council said the highways authority had received no request for signage from Gateway but it would consider provision if asked.