Back-to-work Corby Railway Station parking surge causes headache for locals

Our special report shows an increasing issue with parking at Corby railway station

Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 6:21 am
Updated Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 1:31 pm

Thirteen years ago, residents living around the soon-to-be-opened Corby Railway Station warned the authorities that they were storing up parking troubles in and around the site.

Now, fed-up people living near the station are calling one again for a residents’ permit area because of the number of vehicles clogging up their roads.

Scott Road residents say that people leave their cars on grass verges and parked dangerously on the corner so that emergency vehicles struggle to get through.

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Cars parked nose-to-bumper along Scott Road, which is just yards from the station

The street runs parallel to Oakley Road and is the closest one to the station without double yellow lines. Locals say the problem has worsened during the construction of apartments in Station Road because contractors are parking their vehicles there rather than pay the car park fee.

Residents our reporters spoke to said that the issues had eased a little during lockdown, but with the acceleration of the construction of the nearby apartment block, the doubling of the number of trains to London, and a rise in commuters returning to the office following the lifting of Covid restrictions, they are now worse than ever.

Locals are concerned that, with residents due to move in to the swish development next month, and not enough car parking spaces for each of the flats, the situation will reach breaking point.

They are now calling for a free residents’ permit scheme to force those using the station to stop parking in their narrow street.

Vans and cars frequently park on the grass verge in Scott Road

Station Road itself has double-yellow lines so is unaffected by the problems.

Car parks in the Old Village are also getting busier with commuters, according to people living there. And cars have frequently been parked on the Corby Walk, forcing pedestrians to walk in the station access road.

The station apartments scheme was given planning permission back in 2018, despite concerns from residents that there were only 84 parking spaces for a site that will eventually house 150 flats. The local highways authority said the scheme 'woefully under-provisioned' in terms of parking.

Phiona Richards, who lives in Scott Road, said that residents had originally raised concerns when the station was reopened more than ten years ago, and that the situation has become worse during recent months.

Vehicles parked on the Corby Walk

She said: “They tried to persuade the station to have free parking when it opened, which would have solved a lot of the issues. They said that they would give us residents’ parking permits but they would be £30 a car and that’s no good if you’ve got more than one car or visitors coming and going. It should be free.

"Tesco realised people were parking there all day to use the station so they introduced a time limit.

"People come and park on the bend and the verge and then go off. I don’t think it’s because they can’t afford the parking fees – we’ve had a Tesla park here.

"And then they said they were going to build these wonderful flats and people living there would go off on the train to London every day, so they didn’t need enough car parking spaces for each flat to have one.

There wasn't a single car parking space available when the Northants Telegraph visited the station last week

"And to add to that, the builders doing the flats are now parking their vehicles in Scott Road."

Other residents in the street also told our reporters they are having issues.

One, whose husband is a taxi driver, said her family often found it very difficult to park anywhere in the street at all. Others said they had been forced to pull their traditional hedges out to create dropped-kerbs so they could park on their own land.

Before construction could start on the former piece of publicly-owned land in 2020, the developer Hecurl – a joint project between Hector Newton and Curlew - had to agree a construction traffic management plan with the then Corby Council.

The plan stated: "It is envisaged that our works will not impact the local traffic and amenities other than for the delivery of materials which will be arranged to take place out of peak traffic times.

“We shall ensure the minimum disruption occurs on the project due to the environment in which the works will be taking place, with attention being paid to the segregation of our works from that of the local residents and businesses and the continuous monitoring of the increased traffic movement in the area. Site personnel’s vehicles shall be securely parked during working hours and the delivery of materials shall be made using the minimum number of vehicles.

Parking is only £14 per week at the NNC-run car park by the station

“Consideration will be given to the occupants in the adjacent properties and that of the residents. No operatives are to stray into occupied areas without authorisation.”

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The Northants Telegraph has contacted North Northants Council to ask how this traffic management plan is being enforced.

A representative for Hector Newton was happy to provide email trails showing that their main contractor Fox Industrial Services has sent several forcefully-worded emails to NNC showing pictures of the illegally parked cars and asking them to enforce the parking restriction because the contractor has no power to do so off-site.

Fox said most of the vehicles were not from their contractors, adding: “The problem lies with enforcement, not with us, as we have no legal way of enforcing parking anymore than a resident receiving a parcel from an illegally parked amazon van.”

Despite this, locals say the parking is not regularly enforced.

When the Northants Telegraph visited the site last week there was not a single parking space available in the car park, which is run by NNC, and many cars were parked on the bend along the entry road. Some had even parked in the fifteen-minute pick-up zone, with all-day tickets in their windscreens.

Amanda McCann, who works in the coffee shop inside the station building, said that the situation was much worse in the past month since many London commuters returned to their workplaces in the capital.

She said: “It’s full by 8am most days now.

"People park in the short-stay bays because they don’t really have much choice. The past month things have got really busy.

"I suppose people had been working from home and doing a day or so in the office but that seems to have changed now.”

There is a large section of unused brownfield land between the station and the Stagecoach bus garage, which until recently was owned by Government body Homes England. They originally bought it with a plan to develop the entire Station Quarter as a whole, and even intended to compulsorily purchase the Stagecoach Garage. However, it is believed that land has very recently been sold to a private developer.

Councillor Mark Pengelly has been helping the residents to voice their concerns to the council. He said: “When they started building the flats they had to put mitigation in place to ensure local people weren’t affected.

"I am still asking for the details of that mitigation and what action has been taken.

"We told them this would happen when the planning was granted and we want action now.”

Commuter Emma Parle moved to North Northamptonshire after the first lockdown and commutes from the station most days. She said she had believed her London employer – a major bank - would allow her to work from home permanently.

"Northamptonshire seemed perfect,” she said.

"The houses were so much cheaper and we just liked the pace of life. I worked from home full time for 18 months but then they asked us to go back in two days a week.

"Now it’s four days.

"I always try to park in the car park. I don’t mind paying as it’s not expensive at all if you get a weekly ticket but sometimes there just aren’t any parking spaces so I don’t really know what else I can do other than park nearby.”

An NNC spokesman said: “Complaints have recently been received by North Northamptonshire Council’s Planning service regarding vehicle parking around Corby Station.

“It is alleged that the parking is related to contractors working on a nearby construction project and this is currently being investigated by the council’s planning enforcement team to establish whether action is required in relation to compliance with the agreed construction management plan for the development.

“Generally speaking, civil parking enforcement can only be carried out where civil restrictions are in place.

“We have asked our wardens to monitor the around the station, which does have restrictions.

“The issue of parking often brings up differing opinions from local communities on the correct way to deal with problems, such as residents parking schemes.

“Where it is appropriate, waiting restrictions can be considered to control where and how people park in an area.

“Requests are currently reviewed on an annual basis. If a request meets the council's criteria and there is enough local support, then they may be included in a future consultation to make a change to the Traffic Regulation Orders for that area.

The Station Road apartments are due to be handed over to their new owners in June - and locals are concerned parking issues may escalate