Clampdown on student parking in Norwich parks

Sarah HallNumber plate recognition cameras could be introduced in two Norwich parks to stop students and staff from the University of East Anglia hogging the parking spaces.Sarah Hall

Number plate recognition cameras could be introduced in two Norwich parks to stop students and staff from the University of East Anglia hogging the parking spaces.

And the permit parking zones in residential streets around the university could be extended as council bosses try to get to grips with the rising number of students in the city.

The proposals are outlined in a report which was drawn up after consultation earlier this year with people living in the streets around the university and with users of Eaton and Earlham parks, which yielded more than 550 responses.

The report recognised the UEA had developed a travel plan and management of its car parks to encourage students and staff to walk or cycle, to car share or to use local bus services.

Controlled parking zones have already been brought in on the nearest streets, but the report said, with the UEA now having about 20,000 students and 3,000 staff, there was 'clear evidence' from the consultation that families living in the unrestricted streets were finding it hard to park because people heading for the UEA were parking there.

As a result, officers are recommending that the permit parking zone is extended to include Cunningham Road, Wilberforce Road and George Fox Way and to ban parking on a number of grass verges.

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But they also want to consider using automatic number pate recognition equipment in Earlham Park and Eaton Park, with a new term time parking restriction of two-and-a-half hours in Eaton Park.

That is because high numbers of people visiting those parks found spaces difficult to find, while 'park users are of the view that UEA commuter parking has a serious impact on park users who travel by car.'

Tom Sutton, welfare officer at Union of UEA Students, said in the union's submission to the council that they had been trying to improve car parking since 2008.

He said: 'Permitting the area may mean that the students that have chosen to park in a residential area are unable to continue to do so and will be forced to park at the Institute of Food Research.

'However, this site is already reaching full capacity and because of the inadequacies of public transport these students may have no choice but to find an alternative residential area to park. Permitting the area will only displace the problem.'

He said the union wanted the UEA to review its parking policy and to guarantee that only university staff and students with a genuine need were allocated parking spaces in its car parks on a fair basis.

Bert Bremner, who represents University ward on Norwich City Council and is executive member for community safety and community cohesion, said: 'I think it's a very positive report and I fully support the ideas. The number plate licence recognition and two-and-a-half hour limit in Eaton Park seems an excellent solution.

'It's a shame we have to go down that route because UEA staff and students are misusing them, especially as the UEA has tried very hard with its travel plan.'

The report will be discussed by members of the Norwich Highways Agency Committee - which is made up of city and county councillors - on Thursday where they will be asked to agree for further consultation with the public over the proposed changes.