Historic walled garden at Yard to be concreted over for parking
A HIDDEN and historic garden is to be concreted over to help solve a car parking crisis at the Royal William Yard.
But the yard's developers have been ordered to deliver a long-requested transport strategy after resorting to bulldozing part of a listed walled garden at the waterside site.
Residents there told Plymouth City Council's planning committee how there were currently just 422 parking spaces at the Grade I-listed former Royal Naval victualling yard.
But Richard Harold, of the Royal William Yard and Stonehouse Residents Association, said its various restaurants and cafes could now accommodate up to 2,000 "covers", "depending on the weather", with peak times being Friday evening through to Sunday evening.
Mr Harold said earlier plans for underground or multi-storey car parking had never materialised – and nor had viable alternatives.
"Urban Splash just hasn't through this through," he said of the developer.
"This plan needs to be put aside until Urban Splash have put forward a transport strategy."
Councillors at last week's meeting noted how the application for 150 car parking spaces would see part of the former Nursery Walled Garden concreted over.
A report by planners also noted how English Heritage accepted it was the "least visually intrusive way of providing additional parking" on land which bordered the wall running alongside the road to Devil's Point car park.
Councillors recognised that the increasing success of the Yard was of benefit to the city, but was also the foundation of the parking crisis.
Council officer Jeremy Guise told committee members how the "biggest frustration" for residents – and the local authority – was the lack of an "overall transport strategy in the yard".
He accepted the "sacrifice" of the walled garden was a better arrangement than leaving the current situation as it was, or waiting for parking problems to "escalate".
However, Mr Guise said the planning committee should have been given a "long term plan" by now, adding that the council had been putting pressure on Urban Splash.
Councillor Patrick Nicholson reminded the committee that the developers "don't have sole responsibility for transport".
"Without additional car parking what can Urban Splash do to draw people to use these buildings?" he asked.
Councillors agreed to approve the application and the listed building consent to create the car park, but with the requirement that developers continued to consult with residents.
In addition, the committee passed an "informative" but not legally binding note warning Urban Splash that it would "not be prepared to consider further applications" until the company first provided a transport strategy for the yard. No one was available for comment from Urban Splash.