The Cookham Plan - Transport and Traffic




5   Parking and the Parade


5.1   Background


Parking was reported to be a significant problem for 20% of Cookham residents, with a further 37% reporting some problems.  The Parade was mentioned as being an area that needed a facelift.  It is recognised that Cookham needs its retail outlets, and shop viability is the key to maintaining the range of retail outlets in Cookham Village and Cookham Rise (this is less of an issue in Cookham Dean).  Solutions to parking problems need to recognise this, and the proposals contained in this report should not damage the viability of existing retail outlets.


Responsibility for the enforcement of parking regulations was transferred from the police to RBWM earlier this year.  It is too early to evaluate whether this has resulted in a change to parking behaviour.


5.2   Remit


The remit of this working group was parking and the Parade, but please note that it did not include parking problems related to schools.  These are being reviewed by a different team.


The Group has identified areas where parking could be better utilised.  This would require an agreement between the Parish Council and the site owners/operators.  Such an agreement is beyond the scope of this team and the authority of the Parish Council would be required prior to any discussions taking place.


5.3   Methodology


The team reached its conclusions and recommendations having:-


·      Surveyed the three areas comprising the three Cookhams.

·      Observed when and where parking is problematical.

·      Interviewed those directly involved (e.g. retailers), with the exception of the National Trust, whose opinions had been obtained by the previous working group.

5.4   Specific Areas


The parking “hot spots” are:-


·      Cookham Village.

·      The Moor.

·      The Parade and the Station car park (including Elizabeth House).

·      Lower road, particularly around the Medical Centre.

·      Around Cookham Dean Village Hall.

5.4.1       Cookham Village

There is a general shortage of parking in Cookham village.  Parking is required by shops and businesses, residents, shoppers and tourists, particularly those visiting the Spencer Gallery.  While some businesses do have their own parking (King’s Arms, the Crown, the Ferry, Malik’s), the majority do not.  A partial solution for residents had been agreed prior to this study that would allow the introduction of residents’ permits, in return for a small increase in on-street parking. 


There is a small public car park on Sutton Road for 18 cars, and private parking for approximately 25 cars behind the Parish Centre (for use by the Parish Centre) as well as some on street parking.  Parking is allowed on the north side of Cookham High Street, but not on the south side.  Nevertheless, delivery vans and others frequently park on the yellow lines on the south side, creating congestion. 


There are no opportunities to increase parking in Cookham Village itself.  However, the car park behind the Parish Centre is sometimes underused.  Provided that the Parish Centre agrees, parking on the High Street could be eased if more local retailers were allowed and encouraged to park here rather than elsewhere in the Village, and particularly on the High Street.  Signage to the car park is non-existent, so it is unlikely that many visitors use this car park.  The car park does not have parking bays marked out, so the parking space is not efficiently utilised.


Subject to the agreement of the Holy Trinity Parochial Church Council, the recommendations of the group are:-


·      To mark out spaces on the Parish Centre car park.

·      To encourage more local retailers to use this car park.


5.4.2       Holy Trinity School

The previous Cookham Plan recommended a feasibility study into a new road and car park from Sutton Road to the field behind the school.  As mentioned above, issues related to parking and Holy Trinity school (essentially drop off and collection of pupils) will be dealt with separately.


This Group does not recommend a feasibility study for the following reasons:-


·      The parking and congestion problems relating to drop-off and pick-up of pupils do not require the construction of a permanent car park.

·      The Stanley Spencer Gallery does not support a car park in that position as it is too far away and is not acceptable for disabled access.  Coaches park away from the village in Boulters Lock car park and satisfactory arrangements are in place.  Appendix E is a letter from the Stanley Spencer Gallery stating their position.

·      The car park would be too far away from the village, so usage would be likely to be minimal while alternative parking (e.g. on Sutton Road and Cookham Moor) is closer to the village.

·      The construction of the road and car park would be on green belt land and therefore would bring with it the threat of housing development.

5.4.3       Cookham Moor

The car park on the Moor has the parking capacity for about 35-40 cars.  It appears to be primarily used by people heading for the river, but it is also used as an “overflow” car park for visitors to Cookham Village.  The capacity of the car park is adequate the majority of the time but it is not adequate to meet peak demand.  This occurs from late morning to late afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays (and Bank Holidays), when the weather is fine and/or sunny.  At these times, cars use the north end of the car park (this can accommodate around 10 cars), and on the Moor opposite the entrance to the car park.  The photograph below shows these areas.


Photograph 1 - The car park on Cookham Moor.  Note the overflow onto the southern area (click for larger image)


There is a gate at the north end of the car park, which leads into Marsh Meadow.  This entrance is occasionally used for events such as the Cookham Regatta, when parking is permitted on parts of Marsh Meadow.


The Moor car park has been criticised as being unsightly.  It is owned by the National Trust, which is responsible for its maintenance.  It is recognised that the National Trust has opposed extending the car park (even though it is used as one on an ad hoc basis), and that funding is an issue. 


A previous proposal recommended a new car park on Marsh Meadow, behind the Fire Station, and the closure of the Moor car park.


Because parking problems are limited to weekends when the weather is fine and sunny, the proposals of the group, which would be subject to the agreement of the National Trust, are as follows:-


·      Extend the car park to incorporate the area immediately north of the car park, up to the gate leading into Marsh Meadow (outlined on photograph 2).

·      Resurface the car park and mark out parking spaces.  This needs to be done using the appropriate materials and markers – the group is not recommending tarmac. The way forward could be for the Parish Council, the National Trust and local residents to find a way of funding improvements, in return for extending the car park.

·    It is not recommended to proceed with the Marsh Meadow car park as previously proposed.


Photograph 2 - Note the area to the north (top) which is discussed above (click for larger image)


5.4.4             The Parade and the Station Car Park

The capacity of the car parks is as follows:-


Network Rail

 – west of the station:

50 places.

Network Rail

 – east of the station:

21 places (it appears that an additional 8 places could be made available).

The Parade:

42 places.


113 places (potentially 121)


This area is the commercial heart of Cookham Rise.  Ownership is complex.  Network Rail owns the car park west of the station, together with the area east of the station and the road leading up to the station.  The remainder of the car park is owned by some of the retailers, the principal one being the owner of Country Stores.  As the land is privately owned, the RBWM have no responsibility for parking.


The Group has spoken to some of the retailers, but has not been able to contact the owner of Country Stores.


A summary of the issues is as follows:-


·      The capacity of the car park is generally considered to be adequate.  Nevertheless, there are times when parking overflows onto the surrounding roads.

·      The retailers do not have the income or incentive to pay for the car park to be improved.  They pay a sum per annum to the owners whose responsibility it is to do this.

·      It is generally agreed that the Parade car park is in need of resurfacing.  The surface has potholes, the pavements are cracked and the car park spaces need better marking.  However, the appearance needs to be balanced against the viability of the businesses.

·      Since the introduction of car parking fees at Bourne End station, it is alleged that some rail commuters are driving over to Cookham, where they can park all day free of charge in the Parade car park.  As a result, retailers on the Parade have been monitoring parking and have left polite notes on cars parked all day, pointing out that parking is for customers and is limited to two hours.  The ultimate threat is clamping and a release fee of £125.  This appears to be being effective.

·      It has been rumoured (no more) that Network Rail will introduce parking fees at Cookham.  This would put pressure on the Parade parking, if commuters then park in these spaces rather than opt to pay the fees.  The situation is further complicated by uncertainties with regards to the status of the car park west of the station.  This is reported to be protected by a Covenant allowing residents facing the car park to use it for free.  At the time when the current restaurant was the Railway Tavern, the car park sign included a reference to being also for the use of Railway Tavern customers.

·      The Parade also provides access to parking at the rear of the shops and flats.  There are recycling bins at the south-western corner.


The proposals of the group are as follows:-


·      As with the Moor car park, a group comprising the owners, the retailers the Parish Council and local residents should be convened to draw up plans for upgrading the car park (please note that upgrading the shops themselves is outside the remit of this group), and devise ways of funding the work (section 106 funds could be one source).  This would probably need to involve Network Rail.  The drawings contained in the previous plan could provide a starting point, but the current number of places should be maintained or increased.

·      The status of the Network Rail car park west of the station needs to be established, so that the legal position is clear should Network Rail propose to introduce charges.  This will probably require the services of a lawyer, and is beyond the remit of this group.

5.4.5       Elizabeth House

Elizabeth House is the day centre for the elderly in Cookham.  Cookham Voluntary Services provides transport for the elderly and disabled to and from Elizabeth House and to local hospitals and other services.  It is important, therefore that the area in front of Elizabeth House is kept clear.  The entrance is frequently used as a U-turn and occasionally as parking for people using the cash machine outside the Nationwide office.  The manager of Elizabeth House has raised this with RBWM in the past but has never received a reply.


It is recommended that the Parish Council raise this issue with the RBWM.

5.4.6             Lower Road

This is the area with the most intractable parking problem.  It contains the Medical Centre, two halls and several retail outlets, including the chemist.  There are double yellow lines along the south side of Lower Road from the junction with High Road to the chemist, and on the north side from the railway to the Post Office and from the Medical Centre car park to the junction with New Road.  There are double yellow lines at the entrances to Grange Road and Coxborrow Close.  As these are public roads, responsibility for parking enforcement lies with the RBWM (except for the Medical Centre, which is private property).


The Medical Centre car park is for the use of patients and medical staff and there is a formal agreement with the Pinder Hall Management Committee that users of the Hall can also park there.


The surrounding roads, Coxborrow Close and Grange Road, are used for parking, if no spaces are available on Lower Road itself.  There is anecdotal evidence that the Medical Centre car park is used by non-patients and that some car owners park all day on Lower Road.  On one occasion, a car was left for two weeks, while the owners went on holiday.  This has resulted in retailers leaving polite notices on cars, similar to those by Parade shopkeepers, but without the threat of clamping.


There is no way that parking capacity can be increased on Lower Road or in the immediate vicinity.  However, the Catholic Church has indicated that it would be willing to allow parking in its car park when it is not in use by the Church.  This is less than five minutes walk from the Medical Centre.


Long term day time parking needs to be discouraged.  The group, therefore, would like the following proposals to be considered:-

·      Clarification regarding parking in the Catholic Church car park needs to be discussed with members of the Church.  If agreement can be reached, the availability of parking would need to be publicised.

·      The Parish Council should consider the introduction of day-time parking limits to discourage all day parking, which would be enforced by the RBWM.  This would apply during office hours (say 8a.m. to 6p.m.) – parking outside these hours would not be affected.  Discussions with residents and retailers would need to take place.


5.4.7       Cookham Dean

Parking problems at Cookham Dean Junior School and Herries School are the subject of a separate study.  The only other area of Cookham Dean with a parking problem appears to be outside Cookham Dean Village Hall and the Women’s Institute Hall.


There are blind bends on the road approaching Cookham Dean Village Hall, and the road is narrow.  Beyond the Village Hall, the road is more open but is still too narrow to allow two way traffic to pass if there are cars parked along the road.  When events are held at the Village Hall, cars park along the road and on Cookham Dean Common.


Although there are no reported accidents involving injury, it would be prudent to formalise parking and ensure that traffic negotiating the blind bends approaching the Village Hall are not confronted with parked cars on the left and oncoming traffic.  As this is primarily a road safety issue, it is covered in the Road Safety report.