AFTER the recent furore over the experimental lane closure at Wildman Street at Kendal, another traffic management issue in the town is now set to take centre stage.

South Lakeland District Council is planning to spend more than £400,000 to transform the informal car park on land at New Road into a community space, complete with riverside pathways, seating, landscaping and tree planting.

In the past, similar proposals have proved extremely controversial, with some of those using the land arguing there is hardly anywhere in the town where people can park for free and some traders saying those using New Road when visiting the town to shop might choose to shop elsewhere instead.

Undoubtedly the closure of the car park - which for most of the day is packed with around 180 vehicles - will prove inconvenient for its current users. They are going to have to find somewhere else to leave their cars.

But the council has little choice. Parking is already technically illegal there as the area is designated as common land, so SLDC cannot transform the space into a properly-managed and laid-out car park.

But, beyond that, health and safety experts have warned the current use presents 'grave and severe' potential dangers because of the way traffic accesses it and exits the site on to New Road. And the council's insurers say SLDC would be liable for any incidents - something which could potentially hit the public purse.

The 'shoppers' argument loses weight when you realise 70 vehicles park there every night - and by 7.50am yesterday morning the car park was nearly full. Few of those vehicles had contained people heading to the town's shops.

Kendal needs to make more of its assets, such as its river, and a landscaped area at New Road would help - though how pleasant it will be sitting close to a busy main road remains to be seen.

And the council will offer £1 per day parking in the Westmorland Shopping Centre in future.

New Road looks a mess at the moment - and there must be many minor scrapes as cars manoeuvre in the limited space.

Not everyone will be pleased but landscaping does seem the most sensible option to overcome health and safety concerns and meet the council's legal obligations.