We are proposing to introduce public pay and display parking in the Manor Pavilion car park, next to the Manor Pavilion Theatre and Arts Centre in Sidmouth. This 21 space car park has historically been designated as a private car park for people visiting the theatre and arts centre.

Why are we proposing changes?

There are two main reasons:

  1. East Devon District Council owns the Manor Pavilion Theatre and Arts Centre and its car park and pay the running costs. Like all other local authorities, we are under significant and increasing budgetary pressures so need to find other ways of helping fund the ongoing costs and improvements needed at the Manor Pavilion Theatre and Arts Centre to keep it going.

    The money from the car parking charges would go directly to the theatre to help pay for improvements such as new seating, customers being able to buy tickets online, new lighting etc which it needs to provide a high quality experience for its customers. Paying to park in theatre car parks across the country is normal, to help with the running costs of the theatre. 
  2. This 21 space car park has historically been designated as a private car park for people visiting the theatre and arts centre. However over many years more and more residents and shoppers are using this very central site as a free car park with no restrictions or enforcement. This means there are less spaces available for people that visit the theatre and arts centre. The theatre manager has tried to control this by locking the gate from time to time but the problem is still growing. Going forward we need to find a better way to properly manage this important asset and the way the car park is used.

The change being proposed is that:

The car park next to the Manor Pavilion Theatre would become a car park where you have to pay to park between 8am and 8pm, and you would only be allowed to stay for up to four hours. This will be at the same rate as the majority of our car parks, £1 an hour.

The vast majority of evening shows at the Manor Pavilion Theatre start between 7.30pm and 8pm which means that any theatre customer parking at the car park to see an evening show would only have to pay a maximum charge of £1.

To ease the impact of this change:

  • You would be allowed to park for free for up to ten minutes. The ten minutes grace period would allow people to quickly drop off equipment from their cars for shows and arts centre displays, or to buy tickets from the box office.
    We would work closely with the manager of the theatre to manage and enforce this restriction to prevent abuse of this free ten minute period. This careful management would also make sure customers who are genuinely in a queue to buy tickets for the theatre aren’t penalised.
  • There would be a separate entrance and exit to a different area of the car park for people hiring or putting on shows in the theatre to use when unloading or loading their sets and equipment.
    This area would be under the direct control of the theatre’s management and would make sure that people would be able to get their stage sets and equipment in and out. There would be plenty of space for vans to turn around and park up next to the lock up area where they load and unload. The space accessed by the separate entrance and exit would be outside of the pay and display zone and would provide a small number of car parking spaces for approved users.
  • We would be happy to offer a special deal on parking costs in the larger Manor Road car park to local groups using the theatre or arts centre. The actual deal would depend on the number of spaces they needed and the time of year.   This would be managed by our parking services team and not the theatre.
  • We accept there would be some inconvenience for people that use the arts centre. However, the 300 space Manor Road car park is a very short walk to the theatre. People needing to drop off equipment at the arts centre can use the 10 minutes free car parking to do so, and then have the option of parking in the Manor Road car park.
  • Currently the running costs and maintenance bills for the arts centre are considerably more than the amount of income in generates. So the additional income raised by the pay and display car park would help keep it open and help make sure we can keep the hiring costs at an affordable level.
  • There are just 21 spaces in the car park, it is nowhere near enough for an entire theatre audience of 277 so there are already alternatives that are used by audiences if people don’t want to or can’t park in the car park next to the theatre.

Other options we looked at but have discounted and reasons why:

  • The Council thought about not introducing car parking charges. However, the budget we have available to help us run the theatre and arts centre is reducing, and so charging for this car park provides an opportunity to upkeep and improve this greatly valued theatre and arts centre and car park. In addition the car park has become increasingly difficult to manage over the last five years as more and more residents and shoppers use it as a free place to park, so there are less spaces available for people that visit the theatre and arts centre.
  • We thought about allowing customers to hand in a part of their car parking ticket at the theatre box office for a refund. However, we feel that as there are only 21 spaces, and all the other theatre goers that park in other nearby car parks don’t get this benefit, we felt it wouldn’t be fair.
  • We thought about only charging for parking until 6pm. However, most of the theatres shows start between 7.30pm and 8pm. If the car park is free at 6pm it will be used by some residents for free overnight parking, leaving less spaces available for theatre goers. 
  • We thought about only allowing people to stay in the car park for a maximum of three hours, which is normal in our short stay car parks. However, people going to an afternoon theatre performance may need more than three hours to go in, see the show and get back out again so we are proposing to make it four hours.  

What we did

We gave people the above information and asked them to complete a questionnaire to give us their views either online or on paper. Alternatively they could email or send their comments in to our Legal Team. They had 21 days until 28 July 2017 to do this.

We analysed and considered all the consultation responses.

The Legal Team and Car Parks Team produced a report on the outcomes of the consultation that will be considered by Councillors at Cabinet at their meeting on 9 September 2017.