Castle Dene Shopping Centre in Peterlee now boasts 679 free all-day car parking spaces and changes previous the policy that saw anyone who stayed longer than three hours in any of the centre’s car parks issued with a £100 fine.
Shopping centre bosses say they have been working together with traders and shoppers to improve the visitor experience and it was raised that the fines could be putting off potential shoppers, which in turn impacts business.
Suzanne Chaney, centre manager, said: “I’ am delighted to announce that parking is now free all-day in Peterlee, which will no doubt make the world of difference to some of our traders.
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“As part of our ongoing efforts to improve Castle Dene we’re always listening to feedback from customers, and town centre visitors.
“If we don’t make it easy for people to come and shop they will simply go to places that welcome them – it’s as simple as that.
“People can now get their hair done, stop for a bit of retail therapy, grab lunch or a coffee and do the grocery shop before they head home without the pressure of constantly clock watching to ensure they do not incur any parking fines.”
Traders have welcomed the move to free all-day parking in six car parks in Peterlee town centre.
Heidi Pratt, owner of Café Eden, said: “It’s well documented that these are challenging times for town centre retailers, so for us these new parking regulations are fantastic and will hopefully get more people using the high street shops again.”
The reformed parking comes shortly after it was announced that Praxis, the owner of Castle Dene, has been a driving force behind a newly formed campaign group named Protect Peterlee Town Centre (PPTC).
The group of community representatives and businesses are objecting to a scheme by Quora Developments for the former East Durham College site, off Essington Way, which PPTC says will “entice” retailers from the town centre, driving down trade and emptying shops.
Richard Paxton, operations director at Praxis, said: “We are committed to exploring a range of ideas to improve Peterlee town centre with parking forming only a part of our wide-ranging strategy.
“Primarily though we want to explore opportunities to invest in the town itself by protecting what we already have and what it has to offer, as well as how we can attract more people to visit and spend time here.”