The developer behind Altair has insisted that car parking changes on the site of the £70m residential, leisure and lifestyle quarter are designed to encourage people to spend time and money in Altrincham town centre.
Speaking exclusively to Altrincham Today, Nick Payne, managing director of Nikal, said that far too many people currently use the Oakfield Road site as a “park and ride”, commuting in from other towns and immediately getting the tram into Manchester and elsewhere.
He said: “This is not a car park for commuters who come from Northwich, Alderley Edge or wherever, then go into Manchester, spend money, come back and go home. There’s nothing coming into Altrincham.
“The idea behind the scheme here is that we’ll be providing car parking for our scheme itself and for the people of Altrincham. It’s not a park-and-ride town, and that’s the issue. There are park and ride locations along the tram, where people can go to and park up. Altrincham is not one of them.”
Work has recently commenced on the first phase of Altair – which mainly involve a 59-apartment block – with a reserved matters application now also submitted for the second phase, to include the construction of a further 91 apartments, 44,000 sq ft of leisure retail space, 20,000 sq ft of Grade A office space and a 200-space basement car park.
Concerns have been raised that the 4.5 acre scheme will have a “catastrophic” impact on the number of parking spaces in the town centre.
But Payne said that once the scheme is actually finished, the total number of spaces will actually amount to 441 – three more than are currently available, although 200 of those will be for use only by Altair users and residents.
As part of the new parking allocation, the number of spaces officially designated for use by the leisure centre would rise from 10 to 93, and the number forming Altrincham Rail Station car park would grow from 46 to 98.
He added: “People have viewed it in the context of this phase and not the big picture.
“We’ve spent a lot of time analysing how many spaces are used in the town. We’re trying to increase trade for Altrincham, not just provide a parking facility for people to come and jump on the tram and spend money in Manchester.”
He said the car parking on the Altair site would feature an “attractive” rate for short-term users – such as those visiting the leisure centre, ice rink or the Altair development itself – but would be “expensive for people who want to stay here for eight or 10 hours”.
“We don’t really want people to come and not spend time in Altrincham,” he said. “We want people to come, use the restaurants and cafes and the ice rink and spend money. That’s where we’re coming from. It’s all down to dwell time. Come to us, come to the market, do whatever they need to do, but don’t come and jump on the tram and spend your money in Manchester. That’s the logic behind it.”
Payne said that Nikal was pushing ahead with plans for a new leisure centre on the site “at great pace”.
“We’re in the final throes of the last bit of detailed design so over the next three or four months we’ll get right into doorways, socket positions, changing rooms, etc. Trafford (Council) and all of us are absolutely committed to it.”