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Britain’s ghost car parks: How WFH boom has

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Furious residents across the country have blasted their local authorities for spending millions of pounds on new car parks destined to sit empty or be used by ‘boy racers’. 

Britain’s ignominious new white elephants include a train station car park in Wales with no link to the station – and a £1million lot in rural Cambridgeshire which has been ‘used by just three cars’ since it was opened. 

Since the pandemic, millions more Brits have incorporated working from home into their routine, reducing their reliance on car parks as part of the daily commute.

Think tank Centre for Cities estimates that London workers alone are spending just 59% of time in the office compared to pre-Covid levels. 

New trends in hybrid and remote working have left Brits scratching their heads at recent moves by authorities across the UK to create brand new car parks that are lying empty.

A car park near Rogiet, Monmouthshire, Wales. The newly built car park sits just off of the M4 but is largely unused, prompting unimpressed residents to label it 'pointless'

A car park near Rogiet, Monmouthshire, Wales. The newly built car park sits just off of the M4 but is largely unused, prompting unimpressed residents to label it ‘pointless’

The entrance to the Rogiet car park. Locals say it sits empty all day because of its remote location - and because there is no direct path to the adjacent train station

The entrance to the Rogiet car park. Locals say it sits empty all day because of its remote location – and because there is no direct path to the adjacent train station

Rogiet musician Ray Jones. He says the new car park is a 'white elephant' despite its location close to the Severn Tunnel Junction station

Rogiet musician Ray Jones. He says the new car park is a ‘white elephant’ despite its location close to the Severn Tunnel Junction station

The main road in Rogiet, which leads to the Severn Tunnel Junction station. Drivers coming off of the M4 have to drive through the village to reach the car park

The main road in Rogiet, which leads to the Severn Tunnel Junction station. Drivers coming off of the M4 have to drive through the village to reach the car park

In Rogiet, Monmouthshire, Wales, a car park opened earlier this year yards from the tracks at Severn Tunnel Junction and minutes from the M4.

But residents have branded the car park, built on wasteland, a waste of money because it lies empty most days, and has no direct link to the train station it sits beside.

Instead, locals use an existing pay and display car park on the other side of the tracks, which has been there for years. 

Musician Ray Jones, 55, owns the Junction Tracks Music Studio yards from the station, but says he has never seen anyone use the new car park.

He said: ‘It’s a joke really. It’s just a huge white elephant that is sat there.

‘What’s the point in a car park when they haven’t built the steps you need so you can get to the train station?

‘There was a rail replacement bus the other day and it drops people off in the road outside my house because it can’t turn around in the old car park and doesn’t go to the new one.’

Mr Jones believes the car park is part of a long-term vision to get drivers to ditch their cars and stop using the congested M4 which bottlenecks around Newport.

He said: ‘The car park can’t be for now – that’s obvious as there’s no one there. If they put a toll on the M4 to stop people using it and use the train instead then that’s the only thing I can think of.’

The Rogiet car park sitting completely empty this week. Residents were confused when authorities pushed on with the plans for it

The Rogiet car park sitting completely empty this week. Residents were confused when authorities pushed on with the plans for it

Roger Parsons, a retired delivery driver from Rogiet. He uses the old pay and display car park, which has a direct path into the train station

Roger Parsons, a retired delivery driver from Rogiet. He uses the old pay and display car park, which has a direct path into the train station 

Most locals use the old pay and display car park close to the station - which has direct access to the facility

Most locals use the old pay and display car park close to the station – which has direct access to the facility

Steelworker Mitchell Hussey claimed that the only people getting any use of the Rogiet car park were 'boy racers' using it as a meeting point

Steelworker Mitchell Hussey claimed that the only people getting any use of the Rogiet car park were ‘boy racers’ using it as a meeting point

Retired delivery driver Roger Parsons, 78, also told MailOnline he had never used the car park. 

He said: ‘If I had to park in the other car park it would be impossible for me to access the station.

‘It would be too much of an effort getting up and down over the bridge.’

Mr Parsons uses the old pay and display car park and says he has never had trouble parking at the station and was surprised when the new car park was built.

Mr Parsons: ‘I’m not surprised it is empty as there is no access. If they had access then people would probably use it.

‘It must have cost a lot of money. What a waste.’

Steelworker Mitchell Hussey, 34, lives near the station and says the only people he has seen in the car park are ‘boy racers’.

He said: ‘I walk my dog by there all the time and I’ve never seen any cars in it and I work shifts so it’s been all different times.

‘I didn’t even know if it was operational to be honest.

‘The only people I have seen in there are boy racers driving around.’

Mr Hussey said fears about the car park bringing extra traffic in the Rogiet were unfounded, adding: ‘The only traffic we really have is on the main road. The rest of the village is quiet so it wouldn’t matter.’ 

Menea Station car park in Fenland, Cambridgeshire. Aerial pictures taken at 3pm last Thursday showed just one vehicle using the multi-million pound car park

Menea Station car park in Fenland, Cambridgeshire. Aerial pictures taken at 3pm last Thursday showed just one vehicle using the multi-million pound car park  

The site has 112 spaces but frustrated locals have claimed that in the week it has been open 'only three cars' have used it

The site has 112 spaces but frustrated locals have claimed that in the week it has been open ‘only three cars’ have used it

A train arriving into Manea Station. Residents say the car park - which is 'strictly for railway station users only' is underused because trains only serve the stop once every two hours

A train arriving into Manea Station. Residents say the car park – which is ‘strictly for railway station users only’ is underused because trains only serve the stop once every two hours

The entrance to Manea Station car park. Local councillors have defended the opening of the car park, which they say has been in development for 20 years

The entrance to Manea Station car park. Local councillors have defended the opening of the car park, which they say has been in development for 20 years 

It’s a similar story in rural Cambridgeshire, where locals are less than convinced by their own £1million albatross.

The new 112-space car park at Manea station, 20 miles north of Cambridge, has only been used by a handful of cars since it opened almost two weeks ago (Aug 7).

The car park was built on the outskirts of the small village as part of a £9.5 million scheme by former Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Mayor James Palmer to improve rail stations in the district of Fenland.

It was meant to have opened in April 2022 but it has been held up by issues of CCTV connections to Cambridgeshire Police.

Many residents have now blasted the council for wasting taxpayers money, claiming it will not be used by many cars, as trains only run every two hours and there is a very limited evening rail service.

As the station is only a 20 minute walk from the centre of Manea many people believe there is no need for locals to park there. 

Residents in Manea also said more people now worked from home since the Covid pandemic so there was less need to commute.

One local resident, who did not want to be named, said the car park was a ‘waste’ of money. She added: ‘It’s an absolute waste of funding I think for Manea. 

‘The car park has been sat there for months before it was opened and now no one uses it. I walk my dog twice a day and I’ve only ever seen three cars in there.

‘I don’t think it has got any cars off the road. I don’t think it is ever going to be used and if you want it used properly you need it open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

‘If a train is late you also run the risk of having your car locked in as it closes at 10.30pm. I think it won’t be long before it’s used for other purposes. I think the money would have been better spent on other things, such as a playground for the kids.’

The council run car park is currently free to use but despite this incentive there have been struggles getting wheels on tarmac. 

Ryshana Wickramasimghe thinks the car park is a good idea, but thought it needed to be better advertised. 

She said: ‘I don’t think it has been advertised well enough, I knew there was a new car park but I didn’t know it was free. 

‘Once people get to know it is there and free I think more people will start using it.’

Chief to the villagers concerns over the new humongous new car park is the lack of trains running through the village – with services only coming every two hours. 

Ryshana Wickramasimghe, from Manea, is convinced the car park would be used more if it was better advertised

Ryshana Wickramasimghe, from Manea, is convinced the car park would be used more if it was better advertised

Manea resident Martin Hindry believes the car park would be better used if local train services were fit for purpose

Manea resident Martin Hindry believes the car park would be better used if local train services were fit for purpose

Fenland District councillor Charlie Marks says conversations are being held with train operators about adding more services. Footfall at Manea Station has fallen by 80 per cent following the coronavirus pandemic

Fenland District councillor Charlie Marks says conversations are being held with train operators about adding more services. Footfall at Manea Station has fallen by 80 per cent following the coronavirus pandemic

Cyclist Martin Hindry argued that once the trains were sorted out, the car park would pay for itself. 

He argued:  ‘I don’t use the trains enough but it’s there if I want to use it. We’ve got something, now so let’s get the train service to be more in line with what the villagers actually need. 

‘Once the trains are improved it will also help people from surrounding villagers because they will be able to come and park their car in a station with a decent service.

‘One concern we do have is the train timetable doesn’t allow for people coming home late at night. If anyone does come back late the car park will be closed so they can’t leave their car there overnight.

‘I think it may take months for it to be fully utilised as the word has got to get round and people have got to change their habits, which I think they will in time. It’s also a growing village.’

Defending the new build, Fenland District councillor Charlie Marks said he was ‘really pleased’ to see the car park open and hoped that now the infrastructure was in place they could campaign for more trains.

He said: ‘We now have a large car park in place so we can talk to the train companies about getting more train services. We hope they will now see the benefit of stopping at Manea.

‘The car park is free and we hope it will also benefit a lot of people in the surrounding villages too. Manea is a growth village and we feel the car park has future proofed the village as it expands.

‘At the present time we are reviewing the opening hours of the car park to see if it could stay open for longer. It has CCTV cameras and is well lit so it is very safe.

‘The footfall for the station has gone down 80 per cent since before Covid, when the car park was being planned, so we now need to attract more people back.

‘At the moment it is summer with people on holiday and others happy to walk to the station, but I think more people will park here once they know about it and the weather gets worse. I don’t think it will be long before it starts filling up.’

The brand new unopened car park in Milton Keynes. It was mothballed during the pandemic and is yet to open

The brand new unopened car park in Milton Keynes. It was mothballed during the pandemic and is yet to open

The car park was built in 2020 but has never opened - becoming a target for vandals

The car park was built in 2020 but has never opened – becoming a target for vandals

Milton Keynes City Council reckons the car park needs to bring in £470,000 a year to break even - but it has lain unopened for three years

Milton Keynes City Council reckons the car park needs to bring in £470,000 a year to break even – but it has lain unopened for three years

Inside the car-buncle Milton Keynes garage that is used by nobody – because it hasn’t opened three years after it was built

In Milton Keynes, Cambridgeshire, a brand new 700-space car park was mothballed during the pandemic – before councillors then got rid of a car park half its size because it was ‘unused’.

The brand new £8.5 million car park was commissioned to serve Milton Keynes Central railway station and was completed three years ago. 

But to this day, it remains unopened – and its shutters are covered in graffiti. Council estimates suggest it needs to bring in £470,000 a year to break even – but as yet it has not made a single penny.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Conservative councillor John Bint said in 2020: ‘Having it closed and no-one parking there must be the worst of all situations. We could be generating some revenue from it.

‘It would be good to know what the plan is to rectify it. Covid is something we have to cope with rather than saying why we are half a million pounds missing.’

Residents also complained to Milton Keynes City Council that the car park was costing cash to run when empty when it emerged lights were being left on overnight, even though the facility itself was not in use.

At a meeting held in 2020 also reported by the LDRS, Conservative councillor Peter Geary joked: ‘The building glows and you can see it from miles away. I am sure it can be seen from space.’

One local resident told MailOnline: ‘This is a 700 space car park, which cost £8.5 million to build. 

‘The council don’t seem to see this as a problem as the borrowing cost was going to be covered by the Government’s income loss scheme – still a cost to the taxpayer.’

Last year, council transport bosses voted to close another, smaller car park at Milton Keynes Theatre that has 330 spaces – because it was ‘unused’, reports Buckinghamshire Live.

The new Royal Arcade multi-storey car park in Crewe has been slammed as 'pointless'

The new Royal Arcade multi-storey car park in Crewe has been slammed as ‘pointless’

Work continues on the multi-storey car park despite opposition from locals

Work continues on the multi-storey car park despite opposition from locals

Residents say the area is well-served for car parking facilities (pictured: the Wrexham Terrace car park in Crewe) and doesn't need more

Residents say the area is well-served for car parking facilities (pictured: the Wrexham Terrace car park in Crewe) and doesn’t need more

Big names have closed shops in Crewe in recent years. Pictured: the Victoria Street car park in Crewe, with the new multi-storey visible at the top of the image

Big names have closed shops in Crewe in recent years. Pictured: the Victoria Street car park in Crewe, with the new multi-storey visible at the top of the image

It’s the same story in Crewe, east Cheshire, where the council is pressing ahead with a multi-million pound multi storey car park despite residents saying they don’t want or need it.

The car park, part of the Royal Arcade development due to open before the end of the year, has been met with a fiercely negative reaction from locals.

Residents say the cash used for the development should have been funnelled into encouraging economic development in the town centre, amid a spate of high street shop closures.

Cheshire Live reports that big names like Poundland, Boots, Sainsburys and Pizza Hut are among those to have closed shops in the town centre – prompting concerns that there will be nothing to park in the town centre for when the car park opens.

A landmark aspect of the Royal Arcade development – a multiplex cinema – is also in doubt after the Empire chain that was meant to move in fell into administration. 

Brian Silvester, a councillor and former borough mayor, wrote on Facebook: ‘[To] build a multi storey car park that nobody wants, is just crass stupidity.’

One resident wrote on Cheshire East Council’s Facebook page: ‘Absolutely ridiculous project. This council have ripped the heart out of this town and our community.

‘The place will be empty within 18 months, just like half the retail park is. Disgraceful.’

Another added: ‘A multi-storey car park is pointless without something for people to come to in the town.’

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