‘Havering Council’s parking proposals could drive trade away from Hilldene’ - concerned Harold Hill shopkeepers

Shopkeepers, councillors and customers have spoken out about council proposals they believe could drive trade away from Harold Hill.

Havering Council is currently consulting on parking regulation in the Hilldene area, citing commuter parking as an issue that needs addressing.

But there is concern the proposals could force customers away from an already troubled shopping district.

Harold Hill councillor Denis O’Flynn (Labour, Heaton) said: “There are several shops already closed in Hilldene. People can already go to the Lakeside centre and shop to their hearts’ content without paying a penny for parking.

“This will penalise people trying to support their local shops.”

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Newsagent Ronak Patel, who runs Roseland News in Hilldene Avenue, echoed Cllr O’Flynn’s concerns.

“Nobody will pay 20p to park while they buy a 40p newspaper,” he said. “They’ll go to Tesco’s instead.”

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Michael O’Meara, who runs The Diner on Farnham Road, said parking needed to be controlled to keep spaces free for genuine customers – but raised concerns about the proposed parking limit of two hours.

“Status quo would be nice but that’s not a practical solution,” he said. “But what the council proposes is too restrictive. All it’s going to do is push local customers to Tesco, which has its own car park.

“Two hours isn’t enough time for someone to visit the chemist and the optician, do their banking and shopping, and have a coffee.”

Duncan de Wyche, who manages Iceland in Hilldene Avenue and has worked in the area for 12 years, said limiting parking could drive shops out of business.

“It’s not a positive thing to be doing with the economic climate,” he told the Recorder. “You want to draw people into Harold Hill rather than send them to retail parks – otherwise, we’re going to have more empty units.

“People do park who aren’t shoppers, but I think taxing people to come and do their shopping isn’t a good idea.

“Why not concentrate on trying to fill the shops rather than trying to make money from the existing traders? It’s going to hurt their livelihoods.”

As reported in the Recorder last month, the council is consulting on the changes until Friday, January 18. Among the proposals are extra parking bays to the back of the shops and the addition of new disabled parking bays.

Plans also include improvements to street lighting, waiting restrictions and more loading bays to help shops with deliveries.

Deputy council leader Cllr Steven Kelly said: “These proposed changes will significantly improve the area in terms of safety and trade. We want to involve residents and traders to make sure we are addressing all the issues that affect them.

“We want to make sure all visitors can park easily, use the shops and feel safe.”

Residents can get further details about the scheme, including information on how to give their views, by visiting www.havering.gov.uk/hilldeneconsultation.

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