‘Parking fees will put hall in peril’

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A businesswoman fears her efforts to restore a historic building to its former glory will be in vain if plans for paid-for parking outside the venue go ahead.

Sally Ilsley bought the empty Boxmoor Hall five years ago, transforming it into a bustling community facility.

It is the home to a performing arts school, wellbeing and fitness classes and a coffee lounge and is also used for weddings and business events.

By the end of this year Sally, who had dreams of owning the building as a child, is expecting to have spent in excess of £500,000 on renovating the landmark, which dates back to 1889.

But the 32-year-old is worried her business could be destroyed by Dacorum Borough Council’s plans to extend a controlled parking zone to include the St John’s Road cul-de-sac.

“I’m quite worried about the future of Boxmoor Hall,” she said. “People want convenience and not only that, people should be able to park freely and visit venues of historical and heritage importance.”

She says introducing pay and display for visitors and paid-for permits for neighbouring householders could also scupper plans in the pipeline to create a heritage trail around Boxmoor with the hall listed as a designated visitors’ centre.

Sally said: “For the small area of land it is and what they are going to generate from 10 spaces, they have no idea of the monumental impact that can have on a business trying to do so much for the community.”

Sally suggests keeping the parking free but having a two-to-three hour time limit for motorists.

Dacorum Borough Council estimates that it will generate an annual income of £6,740 from motorists but a report says this figure should be treated with caution as many of the bays could be taken up by resident permit holders.

The report – a decision record sheet to advertise, make and introduce the controlled parking – claims that without appropriate measures, inappropriate parking will continue in the area.

A council spokesman said businesses and householders were consulted on the plans and Boxmoor Hall’s objections were included in a consultation report given to decision maker Councillor Julie Laws, who oversees environmental services and sustainability. The provisional date for the scheme to be implemented is April 8.