Park and Ride could grow to 2,000 spaces under Chelmsford housing plans

A Chelmsford park and ride could grow to almost 2,000 spaces under proposals for a housing development scheme in the area.

That is double than Essex County Council’s initial plans to expand and upgrade the existing 1377-space Sandon Park and Ride by approximately 350 spaces.

But developer Redrow Home’s bid to build 181 homes in land west of the Park and Ride Terminus has also safeguarded land for extension to the Sandon Park and Ride for an additional 600 car parking spaces – meaning if all used it could grow to being able to accommodate almost 2,000 cars.

It is hoped that initial works at the park and ride site can begin before any improvements at the Army and Navy junction so that additional capacity is available to meet the predicted increase in demand during construction and help minimise disruption.

Two potential sites in Widford are also currently being considered by the county council – one off the A414 London Road (Three Mile Hill) and one off the A414 Greenbury Way.

The proposed new Widford Park and Ride would have approximately 1,000 spaces, including some specifically for electric vehicles.

Like Sandon, it would also feature a centrally-located terminal building and high-quality and secure cycle lockers for overnight bike storage.

Leader of Chelmsford City Council, Stephen Robinson, said: “We are keen to see the expansion of park and ride. We have long argued for a third site to the west and the park and ride should be an important part of reducing congestion in the centre of Chelmsford.

“At the moment the park and ride numbers are very much down and that is why we hope the county council will come up with some imaginative ways of encouraging people back to the park and ride because it is only running 20 per cent of capacity at the moment.”

The county council has revealed its plans for a new centrally-located terminal building and high quality and secure cycle lockers for overnight bike storage to enable park and choose, where people have the option to complete their journey by bus, walking or cycling.

But Cllr Robinson said he was keen for more imagination at park and ride hubs – especially at the northerly Chelmer Valley hub.

He said: “The world has been turned upside down over the past 18 months and at the moment park and ride numbers are very much lower than they were. Pre-pandemic they were about to break even.

“Obviously that has completely changed but we want the park and ride sites not just bus stops but transport hubs, particularly for the Chelmer Valley one which we think could integrate very well with the garden community as a transport hub or for collecting parcels.

“But it could also have park and pedal – people could park there but if they are going in a different direction to the bus they might want to cycle and we would have a cycle hire scheme.

“These are all ideas we are keen to see considered.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter