Parking – the dirty word in Warwick.
There, I said it! Parking. Hardly the elephant in the room of Warwick but so often overlooked. Just to clarify:
We know it’s an issue and we are looking at options.
It got me thinking though, how bad can the parking in Warwick be? Those who follow my antics on Twitter will know that I champion the 'flamboyantly parked' manoeuvre in the Underwood Wines van, so I'm not exactly an expert in finding a parking space. I have been practising though. With so many meetings for WPP in the centre of Warwick (that's the Market Square by the way) I have had to park 'properly' for hours. So it began. Where to park in Warwick.
I started, as many do, by trying to park as close to my destination as possible. Warwick is different from many towns with this. You can (if you're lucky enough) park right outside many of the shops and businesses in Warwick. I know this is not always a possibility but still - most towns don't let you right in the centre. I often end up driving past empty spaces to try and park as close to my destination as possible, only to have to continue past it to find another empty space further away!
As I'm sure most people do, I dismiss the idea of parking in Warwick's biggest car parks at St. Nicholas Park and the Racecourse as they are too far to walk. Lazy for an able-bodied young man like me, but a valid argument for the elderly or disabled. Parking at St. Nicholas is £2.80 for over 3 hours and only £4 for all day (50p charging overnight on top). Amazingly the Racecourse is only £1 for all day parking.
So, I don't go to these car parks. They're too far and I know I will only be a couple of hours. So I head for the street car parking, which is plentiful if you can find it. Yes, your parallel parking skills come into play and clever folk with parking sensors have the upper hand in many cases. But hey, you wanted convenient parking so you have to earn it right?! Often I manage to park near St Mary's church. When I'm heading to the Rose and Crown this is ideal, as it’s not too far from the Market square. £1.70 buys you two hours’ parking which is the maximum stay. If you go into Warwick between 5-6pm there is often parking here and in New Street. Parking after 5pm in some of this area is free from 5pm until 8am or 9am the next day (no overnight charge).
New Street has a good, well-lit car park too. It’s just behind Hatton & Harding and opposite the Ironmongers and Scoops ice cream. Parking is limited to 3 hours for up to £2.00 and there is now an overnight 50p charge in force but I often find parking here too. 3 hours is ideal for the market and surrounding shops, but granted you have to be lucky with your timing here.
Parking in the Market Square is limited but short stay so turnaround is frequent. A quick nip to the market or any of Warwick’s lovely coffee shops is ideal from here if you time it right. There are often parking spaces here too. Usually a lap of the market will encourage a space to appear.
Keep reading, we’re nearly there! There is also the Westgate car park (by the new bus station). Parking spaces are small and often tricky to park in, and as for trying to get out of your car, well that’s another matter. I have stayed overnight in Warwick and paid the 50p overnight charge here. It’s an ideal location and again early evening sees more spaces. Don’t forget to get a ticket if you pop in to collect a curry from Saffron Gold! During the day it's a lottery again here like with the others. If you find a spot it's 3 hours maximum for £2.00. Ideal if you can get in.
Just across the road is Linen Street multi-story. As you might expect, it’s not pretty and fairly uninspiring to park in. Crossing the road afterwards is eased by the pedestrian crossing near the bus station. All day parking is available for £6.00 and overnight for an extra 50p. I have heard this week that the car park is locked at night though, so once you're in you're in!
Sainsburys is another option. Bit naughty this one, but you can abuse the big boys here and use their car park for up to 2 hours for free. I haven’t done this personally, but I know many do.
Stay with me! The Butts has a mini car park too. Long stay is expensive at £6.00 for over 6 hours and overnight at 50p. There are limited spaces, but a gorgeous walk through the back into town which I recommend anyway. I enjoyed finding this little route up to St Mary's churchyard.
Look, I won't list all the car parks because I'm bored already. There's loads, in fact there's around 900 long stay (over 6 hours) spaces. There are just under 2200 spaces in the 14 district council car parks.
Who wants to know where the FREE or untapped reserves are?
A-ha, got your attention again have I?
Did you know that Priory car park behind the police station for example is free to park in at the weekend? It’s barely any distance out of town. Also Barrack Street car park is available for parking at the weekend, despite the huge red sign outside mentioning clamping and permit-only. Read it... Monday-Friday. Inside are parking meters and on Sunday it's actually free!
My Point is:
YES it's a pain to park sometimes and for many this is really off-putting.
YES it's expensive in comparison to other car parks with better facilities and more spaces.
YES you need to make an extra effort.
BUT, and this is a big BUT. I have never not been able to park in Warwick. NEVER.
Give up by all means and go to cardboard mock-up towns with all the same brands on all the corners. Warwick was designed with only horse and carts for traffic, the castle dating back to 1068 when it was founded by William the Conqueror -he didn't pop to the shops in his Volvo!
It's not really designed for the motor car, but it has some fantastic independent shops and some amazing characters and community.
I'm keen to gauge opinion on this, so please add your comments below. Don't worry, Mary Portas lists car parking as an important part of the 28 recommendations to the Government, and we will be assessing the options we have. Parking just really isn't that 'sexy' is it!? It's not a pilot-winning idea but we recognise that you have highlighted it as a turn-off to our town.
Making Warwick successful to visitors is important and car parks are the first thing many of them see. The car parks are our maître d’. They're the first impression and often the reason people drive through and not to Warwick.
We are hearing exciting news on the grapevine about the future of parking in Warwick. News as we get it.
Thanks for reading. As always, your comments are welcomed.
Todd @Underwoodwines & @WarwickTweetup
The data for the car park charges comes from the Warwick District Council's website