Over the coming years Snape Maltings aims to regenerate the site’s remaining derelict buildings in order to create an enhanced creative campus with an unparalleled range of opportunities for musicians and visitors. The organisation also needs to solve the site’s two existing flaws – its vulnerability to tidal surges and its lack of adequate parking space.
On 19 April 2017 Snape Maltings held its second public meeting with local residents to gain more feedback on plans for its site development. At the meeting, there was a focus on ideas to resolve the site’s car parking issues, specifically the concept of creating an area on Snape Marshes, set back from the river, but connected to the Maltings by a walkway and footbridge.
Parking at Snape Maltings has long presented challenges, with insufficient parking spaces on site to meet demand at peak times. Historically, Snape Maltings was able to lease a field to the south of the site to use as overflow parking during the busiest times of the year. This field is no longer available to Snape Maltings and therefore the organisation has a significant problem that it needs to resolve.
Creating additional car parking capacity in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), close to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI) presents a huge challenge. The landscape is, quite rightly, highly protected. Snape Maltings is only interested in exploring the idea further if it can be demonstrated that a parking area could be created without spoiling the remarkable views of the Alde Estuary and without harming the habitats of the abundant wildlife in the area. In the process of designing the scheme Snape Maltings will be looking to create an overall benefit to the environment.
The concept put forward for discussion envisages a grass-surfaced car park screened by a bund and planting. In addition, Snape Maltings has considered whether it would be possible to create enhanced wildlife habitats nearby.
The concept is not yet costed, nor have the environmental impact studies been completed, but Snape Maltings elected to begin its consultation with local residents very early in the creative process.
Snape Maltings will not consider making a planning application for any aspect of the project until late 2017 at the very earliest, and then only if assessments find that any additional car parking area would not be detrimental to the local environment and ecology.
At the meeting the deputy chair of Snape Parish Council reported that it has carried out a survey, and found overwhelming opposition from residents of the village to the car parking idea. This opposition was also voiced by many local residents at the meeting. Several attendees also noted that the Parish Council and local residents are willing to work with Snape Maltings to try to help facilitate viable alternatives – an offer which was welcomed by Snape Maltings.
Snape Maltings heard the concerns of local residents and has made the firm commitment that it will re-examine all possible parking options to see if there are any viable alternatives, working with Snape Parish Council and willing local residents, before holding a meeting in the autumn to consult local residents further.
Why does Snape Maltings need additional car parking capacity?
For many years there have been too few parking spaces at Snape Maltings to meet demand from the site’s many different visitors – concert goers, shoppers, walkers and nature lovers – during the busiest times of the year. Previously, on key days of the year it was at least possible for Snape Maltings to mitigate this problem by leasing an additional field south of the site to use as overflow parking. However, this lease arrangement is now no longer available and Snape Maltings therefore has a significant parking problem that it needs to solve.
In addition, over the next 5-10 years Snape Maltings is planning to redevelop further maltings buildings which are currently derelict in order to expand the site’s creative campus, enabling many more artists to work and stay on site. Although the new creative campus facilities will not generate significant volumes of traffic, current parking problem will only become more urgent if we do not find a solution to it.
Has it already been decided that a new car park will be built?
No. We are not yet engaged in any public formal planning process and it may turn out to be too difficult or too expensive for us to build a car park that meets all of our requirements, which include ensuring that the iconic views are not spoilt and wildlife habitats are not harmed. At the moment we are looking into the feasibility and affordability of creating a new parking site because we know that we have a difficult parking problem that we need to solve, and we want to consult local people and stakeholders as we consider our options. The area is one of outstanding natural beauty and if we are not able to find a solution that is both affordable and highly sensitive to the natural environment – and people’s enjoyment of it – we will not go ahead. The project is not costed yet – an indicator of the early stage the project is in.
Would any new car park be made of concrete and spoil the view?
No! Our local environment is absolutely remarkable and we will only look to proceed with building a new car park if it can be done without spoiling the view. The surface would be grass, not concrete, and we would aim to create a contour for any car park so that parked cars would not be visible from the main surrounding viewpoints. We imagine that for much of the year there could be sheep grazing on parts of it, with the full space only required for cars at the busiest moments in the year. Any lighting scheme would need to be low level and extremely sensitive, in accordance with planning policy for AONBs.
Would a new car park be detrimental to the habitat of local wildlife?
We will not proceed with any parking solution that is detrimental to the habitats of local wildlife, and we are consulting with the environmental bodies. The onus is on us to come up with a plan for parking which takes positive action to facilitate habitats, is not detrimental to wildlife, and which these stakeholders are therefore able to support.
April 21, 2017