Councillors have voted through plans to convert a small Mansfield town centre car park into a Covid memorial garden weeks after the council declared the site “surplus to recruitments”.
The Mansfield District Council plans will see the 19-space Old Town Hall car park, on Queen Street, converted into a ‘pocket park’ with a stone to commemorate the Covid-19 pandemic.
The authority revealed its plans last month before Councillor Stuart Richardson, portfolio holder for regeneration and growth, took the delegated decision to declare the site redundant.
Council documents state the car park features 19 spaces, four of which are for disabled residents, but that the loss of parking on the site would not impact the vitality and viability of the town centre.
The nearby Walkden Street car park, which has undergone a renovation, includes 352 spaces, while the wider town centre has 88 spaces for disabled motorists.
Planning documents, approved on Monday (November 22), state the site will now be converted into an “urban green space”, featuring a paved terrace and landscaping which is bordered by railings and planting.
There will also be planting to the rear of the Town Hall, with a stepped garden on the site and a memorial feature at the heart of the park.
Councillor June Stendall (Ind), who represents Grange Farm, welcomed the plan and said: “It’s nice to see some part of our town take on some green space and it will be nice to see it come to fruition.
“[The town centre] does lack some green space for the people who do and are going to live in it.”
Councillors were told the site was initially created 12 years ago as a temporary car park, with documents revealing it made a three-year average income of £19,995.
The meeting heard concerns from a shopkeeper on Queen Street who opposed the plans.
Stephen George, who runs the Partytime store, told councillors: “That car park is used every day and is always full.
“We as shop holders have nowhere we can unload because of two taxi ranks, one the full length of Queen Street, and disabled parking.
“It is stopping lorries getting round. I have to get all my deliveries up to Newgate Lane and then I bring them down in the van.
“The only thing it’s going to encourage is drug users congregating there, which they already do.
“I’ve spoken to quite a lot of the shopkeepers, and I haven’t heard anybody in favour.”
These concerns were echoed by one councillor in the chamber.
Cllr Barry Answer (Mans Ind), who represents the Abbott ward, said: “I support a lot of what the speaker has just said.
“I think it’s an extremely useful little car park for people to nip into town and use the bank. It’s very close by.
“It’s a really bad move that we want to put a postage stamp park right at the back of the town hall.
It’s a backwards step changing it over from what it is now.”
The plans were approved by nine votes to one.