Bridgend town centre’s all-new Rhiw multi-storey car park opened on Saturday 12 November – and Bridgend County Borough Council marked the occasion by providing free weekend car parking for all visitors in the run-up to the festive trading season.
The free parking will be available at the Rhiw every Saturday and Sunday between 12 November and New Year’s Eve as a thank-you to local businesses and shoppers for their patience and co-operation during the construction of the new car park.
The car park forms an important part of the £9m Vibrant and Viable Places (VVP) project which has been funded by Welsh Government, Coastal Housing Group and Bridgend County Borough Council.
It has been built by Kier Construction and will provide the town centre with a striking, modern multi-storey parking facility that features 242 bays over seven levels, a customer lift, dedicated disabled parking, improved security and more.
The car park uses a ticketless payment system which records a vehicle’s registration number as it arrives. When the driver is ready to leave, they simply enter their registration into one of the payment machines and it calculates how much they need to pay.
The new car park is the first phase of the VVP project to be completed at the Rhiw. It will be followed in spring 2017 by a new commercial unit and 28 modern apartments that aim to establish a community of residents who will live at the heart of the town centre and support local trade.
The apartments will feature separate parking arrangements and will be mainly aimed at people on modest incomes who either work in or near the town centre, or who commute and need to be closer to vital transportation links such as the town’s bus and rail stations.
Work on the apartments and commercial unit is still ongoing so the main ground-level pedestrian entrance into the car park and four parking spaces will not become available until contractors have left the site. However, other pedestrian access and all other parking spaces will be accessible in the meantime. Some minor car park works will also be completed after the opening, but the priority has been to open it as soon as possible so that shoppers can use the car park as normal.
Councillor Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, said:
“This is the first completed phase of what promises to be a major new landmark development in Bridgend town centre, and it also marks what is quickly becoming a very exciting period in the town’s history.
“Consultation is taking place over a possible partial reintroduction of traffic, and traders recently voted in favour of developing a Business Improvement District or BID which will give them a direct say in the future of the town centre and enable them to prioritise and deliver improvements of their own.
“I know that the business plan for the BID also features ideas such as how additional parking offers might be supported, but in the meantime, we have arranged for free weekend parking at the Rhiw between now and New Year’s Eve as a way of thanking traders and shoppers.
“With the VVP initiative literally putting people at the heart of the town centre, I’m really looking forward to the completion of the apartments and commercial unit next spring, and in seeing how we will be able to work alongside our partners to deliver further benefits for the town.
“I’d especially like to thank Coastal Housing and Kier Construction for ensuring that this fantastic new facility has been delivered in time for the festive trading season, and acknowledge the essential funding that has been contributed by Welsh Government.”
Gareth Davies, director of development at Coastal Housing Group, said:
“This is a really exciting project for Coastal, our first ever in Bridgend. Work is well underway on the remaining aspects of this development, including affordable housing and commercial units, but in the meantime we are pleased that the hard work of all teams involved has meant the car park is ready to open well in time for the festive season.”
Free Christmas and New Year parking in the county borough
Elsewhere in the county borough, free car parking has also been arranged to help support traders during the festive shopping season. It will be available on Saturdays and Sundays after 10am at council-run pay and display car parks between 3 – 31 December 2016 – please note that this does not include Rest Bay or car parks managed by Halo Leisure or Awen Cultural Trust.