What stops Wulfrunians coming into Wolverhampton centre? Why do they often favour out of town shopping centres like Bentley Bridge?
Two main reasons come into play, the obvious one is the quality of the shops – Bentley Bridge has the majority of the big players in large units. It has restaurants, bowling and a cinema. The other is parking. Bentley Bridge offers a huge amount of free parking directly opposite its retail offering. Wolverhampton will soon be getting a Debenhams, has Beatties, Marks & Spencer, Boots & BHS along with a large amount of excellent independent stores and small business – but a continual gripe (as seen on countless letters to newspapers & comments on internet articles and forums) is the lack of decent free parking in the city centre.
Like it or not, many people want the most convenient way to shop – they want to drive in, park near the shops at little cost, have a good selection of stores to visit and finally take the short trip back to the car.
Wolverhampton’s centre – the area inside the Ring Road, is quite compact and doesn’t boast a massive amount of parking. Much of what it does have costs and also takes up a lot of space – prime land that could be used to tempt in investors. The City of Wolverhampton Council is working with this idea – the Westside project will see the Salop Street car park area marketed and eventually built upon. We are of the belief that projects like Westside are certainly needed if we’re to bring shoppers back to Wolverhampton city centre. But we can’t rely on prospective shoppers all walking, cycling or using public transport to access the centre. Like it or not, many people want the most convenient way to shop – they want to drive in, park near the shops at little cost, have a good selection of stores to visit and finally take the short trip back to the car. The concern with using car park space for new construction is you further limit parking options.
As park of the Wolverhampton Future Project, we’re thinking outside the box and playing with new concepts and we invite you to join us. Modern, green – environmentally friendly, multi-storey car parks. A good example being National Grid’s headquarters at Warwick, which has ‘living walls’ – the outside of the car park features garden walls of predominantly native plant species, many of them evergreen (so it looks attractive in winter too). The green wall incorporates Mentha – a wasp deterrent as well as plants that attract butterflies and bees, also providing nesting areas for birds. As well as turning the city green, the car park would also improve city centre air (absorbing carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen).
Pedestrian bridges linking the centre with car parks strategically located immediately alongside the outside of the Ring Road would provide easy access for shoppers and decrease vehicle traffic inside the centre.
The city centre would benefit from two or three new car parks – and rather than take valuable space within the Ring Road, space on the outer edge of the Ring Road could be utilised with pedestrian / cycle bridges running from the car parks over the Ring Road and into the city centre.
This would limit the need for cars to enter the area inside the Ring Road – something that the City of Wolverhampton Council is pushing for with increased pedestrianisation of the city centre. Pedestrian bridges linking the centre with car parks strategically located immediately alongside the outside of the Ring Road would provide easy access for shoppers and decrease vehicle traffic inside the centre.
All we need is investment..