A decision to spend at least £3.9 million on Exeter’s Cathedral and Quay multi-storey car park was deferred by Exeter City Council’s Executive in April, but will be revisited at its June meeting.
The city centre car park has been at risk of collapse since water leaked into the structure last winter. The four upper decks of the 355-space council-owned car park have been closed since January.
A council report proposed spending £2.4 million to refurbish its lower floors, which remain open, and increase security measures for the whole building.
The report also forecast expenditure of at least £1.5 million to repair the upper floors, but this was expected to increase because the cost of the repairs will not be known until investigatory work starts on site.
However an Exeter City Council spokesperson said that the report had since been scrapped, and that revised proposals will be presented to the Executive at its June meeting.
The same meeting will also consider the Exeter Net Zero carbon reduction plan produced for the council by Exeter City Futures.
One of the plan’s priority actions is to: “Make the city centre, and core walking areas, free from non-essential motorised vehicles to provide a vibrant public space and free up land currently used for driving and parking”.
However the council is heavily dependent on car parking revenue, which has fallen precipitously during the coronavirus pandemic from £170,000 to £1000 a week.
The city also owns the nearby Mary Aches and Guildhall car parks, which together provide 827 public spaces, while twelve further city centre car parks, which the council says are located “within walking distance of all retail areas”, provide another 1520 public spaces (1736 at weekends).
Another seventeen sites mean the city provides nearly 4,000 public spaces across 32 central car parks.
In addition, National Car Parks and others provide around 1200 spaces, with Devon County Council’s on-street parking bays accounting for around 500 more and the city’s five park and ride sites another 1700 spaces, with more on the way.
The county estimates that there are also around 3,000 off-street non-residential parking spaces in the city centre.
The 355 spaces the Cathedral and Quay car park would provide if its upper four decks were repaired and reopened would represent just 3.5% of the city’s 10,000 non-residential car parking spaces.
How the city’s Executive can resolve the tension between spending such a significant sum on the Cathedral and Quay car park when it provides such a small proportion of the city’s car parking spaces, while the provision of city centre car parking is at odds with the council’s own carbon reduction plan, will hopefully become clear at its meeting on 2 June.
Exeter City Council declined to comment on the content of the report or the revised proposals.
It has since confirmed that the proposals have been “deferred for the foreseeable future”.