Fresh fears for future of 'vital' Bridgnorth car park after seven-figure deal
Fresh fears have been raised that hundreds of spaces in a town’s main car park could be lost after it was bought by developers in a seven-figure deal.
It has been said the loss in Bridgnorth could occur at Old Smithfield Car Park after it was bought by Ziran Land from Sainsbury’s in February for £1.2 million – with a care home company listed as a beneficiary.
Bridgnorth Chamber of Commerce raised concerns with Shropshire Council in 2020 that any potential sale could see the reduction of “vital” spaces in the town – where parking is a well-known issue.
It comes after a controversial planning inquiry granted Ziran Land permission to build retail units on the land in June 2018. The plans attracted about 7,000 objections and sparked protests from residents before seemingly falling through.
An 80-year Car Park Management Agreement from 2008 also states the land must be “available during the trading hours for use as a car park for private motor vehicles belonging to the public and predominantly for shoppers visiting the premises and/or shops or other premises in the vicinity”.
Emails from before the sale was made, seen by the Shropshire Star, show Shropshire Council’s highways and parking teams confirmed “no council officers are aware of any proposed alternative use of this car park”.
They add that “Shropshire Council is not aware of any transfer of land ownership” and that the Car Park Management Agreement remains unchanged.
Town councillors said shops were “bound to suffer” if the car park was lost.
Town councillor Geoff Davies, who represents Castle ward, said he felt hundreds of spaces were “at risk”.
“Potentially, it could affect the high street as a lot of shoppers and people that come to Bridgnorth park there,” Councillor Davies said. “There’s more than 100 businesses on the high street and they’re bound to suffer should this go ahead.”
A spokesman from Bridgnorth Chamber of Commerce added: “It would make no sense for a developer to purchase a patch of land unless they were reasonably confident that the plans for it could be fulfilled.
“As we know they no longer look to fulfil the planning permission for retail units and we therefore must assume that they have indeed received encouragement for alternative plans.”
Shropshire Council and Ziran Land have been contacted for comment.