The first two hours of parking at the Rhiw multi-storey car park in Bridgend town centre will be free from this summer until spring 2018, cabinet members from Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) have announced.
The Welsh Government has made £3m available to support free parking pilot schemes in local authorities during the current financial year, and BCBC will use its £131,000 allocation to introduce a scheme to benefit Bridgend town centre.
The free parking pilot scheme is anticipated to begin during August, and a confirmed start date will be publicised soon.
Coun Charles Smith, cabinet member for education and regeneration, said: “The Welsh Government has recognised that changing lifestyles, internet shopping and more competition is affecting town centres right across Wales.
“They’ve made this funding available so that local authorities can trial various forms of free parking arrangements to see how much of an impact that might have in attracting shoppers back to our high streets.
“The Rhiw multi-storey is perfectly located for this pilot scheme, which we’re aiming to have up and running by the end of August, and it will then continue through to March 2018.
“Its modern ‘pay on foot’ system also means that the necessary changes to payment machines and signage will be relatively straight forward, costing in the region of £700.”
Coun Smith added: “Currently, the revenue received by the council from car parking goes towards the maintenance and provision of the facilities.
“Wiihout this additional Welsh Government funding we would not be able to offer the two hours’ worth of free parking beyond March, so we will wait to see if the allocation is also provided for 2018-19.
“If it isn’t, and the free parking is seen to have had a positive effect on the town centre, then it may be something that the Bridgend Business Improvement District (BID) choose to fund in future years, together with Bridgend Town Council.”
Businesses who are part of the BID invest 1.25 per cent of their rateable value into a pot of money which is spent on projects aimed specifically at improving the vibrancy of Bridgend town centre.
The new Rhiw multi-storey opened in November 2016 and is part of a larger re-development project funded by Welsh Government, Coastal Housing Group and BCBC which also includes new apartments and a retail unit. The project is due to be completed this summer.