OMAGH town centre will lose over 200 free car parking spaces if proposals currently being considered by Fermanagh & Omagh District Council are implemented.
A new strategy document recommends introducing charges at a number of free parking areas and also increasing fees at a host of other off-street car parks. Officials hope this will drive long-stay parkers out of the town centre and make more spaces available to shoppers.
However, the move is likely to infuriate employees who work in the vicinity of Omagh town centre as they will have to pay more for parking.
The council report also acknowledges that a sharp reduction in the number of free spaces could result in further congestion in nearby residential areas such as Campsie, Gallows Hill and Johnston Park.
Off-street parking was among the functions devolved to local government when the new super-councils were established in 2015 following the Review of Public Administration.
The comprehensive strategy document was prepared by professional advisers and covers parking issues affecting Omagh, Enniskillen and rural towns and villages throughout the district.
It proposals are set to be discussed by the council at a meeting next month and, if approved, will be introduced on a phased basis.
Other issues highlighted in the document is the view that many motorists were adding to ‘traffic management issues’ in Omagh town centre by driving around seeking free spaces.
Surveys undertaken in September and October 2017 showed that the busiest car parks in Omagh were those at Church Street North, Brook Street, Cunningham Terrace, Market Street, Campsie, Brook Street, Castle Street, Drumragh Avenue and Omagh Leisure Complex.
The survey also found that half of people parking in Omagh town centre did so for the entire working day. The report concluded that the turnover of spaces was hindered by the £1 for five hours charge at key sites including New Brighton Terrace car park.
“The approach of charging for more premium core sites, with free parking provided on the periphery of town centres, will provide greater control over parking acts, enable better management of the carparks and facilitate ongoing monitoring,” the report states.
“The proposals will revise the parking supply and therefore the majority of spaces will become charged, as a function of the desirability and premium nature of space in the town centre.”