The lack of parking in two honeypot Lake District towns is costing businesses millions of pounds in lost trade, a new report claims.
Research carried out by Windermere Town Council has demonstrated there is a ‘dire need’ for extra spaces in Windermere and Bowness after damning feedback from residents, workers and tourists.
Cllr John Saunders, deputy mayor of Windermere, suggested one possible answer could be a park and ride scheme, somewhere on the A591 on the road from Kendal.

“It’s absolutely imperative parking problems are looked at,” he said. “I hope relevant organisations can come together and look at this. If we can achieve that I will be very happy.”
He added it was vital that key stakeholders – including Cumbria County Council, the Lake District National Park Authority and The National Trust – took note of the findings.
“If what we’re saying is right then we’re losing millions of pounds a year in potential trade into our Windermere and Bowness economy,” he said.
Adrian Faulkner, secretary of the Windermere and Bowness Chamber of Trade, added a park and ride facility would be one possible solution to parking difficulties and traffic congestion.
“We’ve always supported a park and ride as a chamber, if a suitable site can be found,” he said. “Parking is definitely under-provided, every space is taken up.
“We desperately need extra parking, either that or a good park and ride. How you would implement that though, I don’t know. There’s a lot of thought that needs to be put into it.”

Liam McAleese, head of strategy and partnerships at the LDNPA, said: “We welcome Windermere Town Council’s work on this important area and are currently studying details of their report. 
“As part of the review of the Lake District National Park Local Plan, we are working with Cumbria County Council and other stakeholders to ensure that our policies encourage the use of sustainable transport, while maintaining vibrancy of town centres and enabling people to park at transport hubs. 
“More detailed work and funding would be required to understand the options for, and long term viability of, a park and ride scheme, although we support the idea in principle.”
While many organisations have suggested a park and ride scheme may work, the idea has not received unanimous approval.
Kate Wilshaw, policy officer at Friends of the Lake District (FLD), said: “We have concerns that some of the solutions the report puts forward to address the problems will not fit with national park policies on parking and sustainable transport. 
“For example, there is no mention of using the railway line more or other modes of sustainable transport to bring people into Windermere and Bowness which is something that could have been looked at. 
“Development of a park and ride in open countryside inside the Lake District National Park is not a solution that FLD could support based on the protected nature of the landscape and the national park authority’s own transport policies.”
In addition to a park and ride scheme, a number of other recommendations are made in the report and are as follows:
* Bolster enforcement on existing parking restrictions.
* Improve signage to existing car parks.
* Introduce more stringent on-street parking controls including disc parking.
* Reduce car park charges for residents and workers.
* Make out-of-town car parks cheaper.
* Introduce hourly parking for residents and early bird and daily parking tariffs for workers.
* Free overnight parking between 6pm and 9am.
* Expand existing car parks with more coach parking.
The report painted a bleak picture of thee problems motorist face trying to find a parking spot.
“Many now believe the town is in real danger of turning from a picturesque historic attraction and a wonderful place to live, into a suburban car park with continuous rows of parked vehicles littering the streets,” says the report.
“Traffic congestion and parking problems could seriously impact on the future of the entire tourist industry for Windermere and Bowness. As visitors find entry into the town blocked by queues and realise that the chances of easily finding suitable parking are remote, their perception of Windermere and Bowness as a valued holiday destination will diminish rapidly.”
Cllr Saunders added the situation was severe and needed swift action to prevent Windermere and Bowness from losing out on millions of pounds worth of trade.
“In summer months – the peak season – the car parks are filled to capacity,” he said. “It results in horrendous congestion getting into Windermere and Bowness.
“There’s also a lot of people having to park on the streets causing other problems, or visitors not stopping at all and carrying on their way so we lose them as tourists.
“If you look at the car parks where the shops and cafes are, we’re in dire need of more space. At peak times, there’s around 15,000 tourist cars a day coming to Windermere and Bowness which has a capacity for about 2,500. Nobody in their right mind would say that’s a sensible model.”
Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the report and said action needs to be taken based on the findings.
“We know from feedback that lack of parking is the biggest issue facing businesses in Windermere and Bowness,” he said. “It comes up time and time again.
“The town council’s report puts forward sensible measures such as expanding existing car parks, where feasible, and introducing park and ride.
“Doing nothing is not an option. If we are to promote the Lake District as a world-class visitor destination, we have to give visitors a world-class experience and that starts with providing them with somewhere to park with decent facilities.”