Barlow's Beef: Parking policy can drive trade away


Whilst I live in Macclesfield my classes and canine behaviour clinics require me to spend a lot of time in both Wilmslow and Alderley. I love the area and always receive a warm welcome from residents on my visits. The dogs are rarely as big a problem as their owners believe and dealing with their issues is no problem at all. What does present a problem is... parking.

I've almost given up in Alderley. If I need to meet other trainers I usually suggest Handforth Dean where we can park easily. We used to meet in the centre of town but often spent longer searching for parking spaces than we did on our meeting.

Now I never think about it. If I am meeting anyone unfamiliar with the area I just choose the nearest retail park as the rendezvous.

When the meetings break up I'm frequently surprised how much we spend in the stores which is often more than we did on the meeting. Very little of this is premeditated spending. We 'nip in' for a quick browse and impulse takes over.

I met someone at Stanley Green Costa last week to discuss a new training venue and spent £80 on a jacket in Next. It's not what I intended but it's how retail works.

Unfortunately, it's not how council's work. They are forever in search of the quick buck and forgoing parking fees to drive footfall towards town centre businesses is not on their agenda. It will be when business rates and rents fall off the graph due to empty shops but councils don't look that far ahead.

Knutsford seems to be the least affected by the decline in town centre trade. Could that be due to the on street parking? Pedestrianisation certainly hasn't boosted footfall in Macclesfield and Wilmslow.

I realise parking is a big issue at the moment in both Alderley and Wilmslow. I do not underestimate the problem but reducing town centre parking and stinging shoppers with outrageous fines while providing masses of free out-of-town parking will drive shoppers to retail parks like cows to pasture.

Despite the logic this appears to be the policy Cheshire East intends to consider. There is a plan afoot for Handforth Dean to spread its wings. The scheme includes the erection of a parade of five units along with a standalone single drive thru unit. The proposal is for five units to be used for Class A1 (non-food retail) purposes and two units to be used for Class A1 and/or Class A3 (restaurant and cafe) and/or Class A5 (hot food takeaway).

Additionally a car park containing 240 spaces would be created along with new entrance off Earl Road.

While CEC probably don't know what effect this will have on Wilmslow and Alderley traders I suspect everyone else does.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Neil Matthews
Tuesday 1st March 2016 at 8:26 am
Vic, if you want to add to this and discover some comedy gold at the same time ask Cheshire East about their policy for motorbike parking! Apparently the basic idea is we have to take up the same amount of space by using one car parking bay. Amongst other very 'well thought out' ideas on parking.
Manuel Golding
Tuesday 1st March 2016 at 4:43 pm
Wilmslow's pedestrianised Grove Street on a summer's day is worse than Cherlak, Siberia in the middle of winter there. Since creating this motor free mecca the street gas seen a decline in character, in pedestrians, in shops, in everything but just how awful it is. The cars may have been a bit of a nuisance but at least they brought people into the street's shops and they thrived,
You rightly mention Knutsford's King Street as am example of a thriving, motorised street, just as Grove Street was.
Save Grove Street, bring back the motors!
Simon Worthington
Wednesday 2nd March 2016 at 4:49 pm
I have walked King Street in Knutford many times over the last few years. About 30 people make it look busy. On a sunny Saturday several hundred people (with kids, dogs, prams etc.) will walk along Grove Street. The huge rents and rates affect the choice - count the independants.
There is adequate parking in Knutsford because all the spare land has been used for housing with parking not for offices with no parking.
Two "villages" two different views of "development".
Jon Armstrong
Wednesday 2nd March 2016 at 5:49 pm
I totally agree Simon... I can never understand why some on here consider Knutsford to be so much more thriving than Wilmslow in terms of shopping.

If you packed everyone shopping in Wilmslow onto 18 inches of pavement as they do there, I suspect we'd look positively heaving.

You can argue they have a different ambiance, but I don't think they're having substantially greater success in terms of retail.
Roger Thawley
Thursday 3rd March 2016 at 10:28 am
Having been stung for a piece of money for parking slightly outside a marked parking bay, which was some two inches wider than my car, some years ago, I've never been back to Wilmslow for the purpose of shopping, despite it being where I live. This would never have happened back in the days when 'parking enforcement' wasn't a commercial enterprise operated for the benefit of local authorities. It's this type of money grabbing nonsense which worries my about the concept of devolution of powers to local authorities; modern fiefdoms in the making.
Vic Barlow
Thursday 3rd March 2016 at 5:08 pm
I agree there is something wrong when enforcement morph's into an important fund raiser for the council rather than a service to residents.