An image of Hylands House on a sunny day

Plans to introduce charges at Hylands Estate’s car parks are entering their next phase with a proposed Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) and an application for regulatory approval to change parking arrangements at the historic park. 

Council voted to introduce charges in February 

Chelmsford City Council voted to introduce parking charges at Hylands Estate at Full Council in February. The reasons for doing so were:   

(1) Fairness between users and non-users of the park. People from outside Chelmsford who use the park a great deal pay nothing towards the park costs (which are over £0.5 million a year), and Chelmsford residents who don’t use the park are still forced to pay for it.  

(2) Parking problems at peak times. At peak times, too many people park in dangerous and inappropriate places. 

(3) Shortage of cash due to Covid. Because of the pandemic, the Council lost £17 million income last year and was facing a £7.5 million shortfall this year. Much of this shortfall will carry on in future years. 

Having decided to introduce charging, a consultation on how to manage the scheme, open to all residents and other users of the estate, took place between 16 February and 16 March 2021. Almost 7,000 completed responses were received, providing information about how and when people use the estate and its car parks. 

Details of charges set out 

A summary report of this consultation has now been published, along with the final proposals for the scheme which will now go forward to this next phase. The Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) will set out plans for daily charges at the estate’s three car parks, which will apply between the hours of 9am and 6pm, at £3 for residents and £5 for those living outside the Chelmsford City Council area. 

£5-a-month weekday season ticket also available for residents 

A season ticket for Chelmsford residents will also be available (Mondays to Fridays excluding bank holidays), payable at £5 a month or £60 a year. This will provide a further discount for residents who use the estate’s car parks most frequently.  

The number of groups receiving free parking suggested in the initial proposals, such as Blue Badge holders and residents receiving council tax relief, has increased in response to feedback from the consultation. Volunteers and organised groups using Hylands for activities directly associated with mental health or disability support will be among the groups that will be able to park free of charge. 

The Leader of Chelmsford City Council, Cllr Stephen Robinson, says the consultation has provided important insights. “I’m grateful to everyone who took the time to take part in the survey. The information we received has been valuable in both testing our proposals and determining how to take them forward.

“Parking charges are about being fairer to all Chelmsford residents, regulating dangerous parking for the first time, and contributing towards the Covid shortfall in funds.

“We have also considered other ways to give Chelmsford residents a fair deal, and the weekday season ticket for £5 a month will provide a further reduction for any resident who parks at the estate more than twice a month. For residents who park at the estate several times a week, this will significantly reduce the cost, to as little as 25p a day for some.

“Parking charges are never popular, but they help prevent cuts in other, more vital, services, such as bin collections. The pandemic has created a large shortfall in the council’s finances, much of which will be permanent. The introduction of these charges is part of our long-term recovery as we move on to life after Covid-19.”

Proposals to ease congestion and unauthorised parking 

The statutory process outlined in the TRO will also allow parking to be regulated at the estate, bringing to an end unauthorised and dangerous parking, common during the busiest times. Several hours of free parking will also remain during the summer months when the estate is open between the hours of 7.30am and 10pm, which will further ease congestion at the estate’s three car parks. 

Consultation under way until 29 July 

Details of the proposed Traffic Regulation Order can be found on notices at parking areas and the entrances to Hylands Park, and online at www.chelmsford.gov.uk. A consultation will run for the next 21 days and the closing date for the submission of representations is Thursday 29 July 2021. 

Any submissions will be reported to the Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee, which meets on Thursday 26 August. If the TRO is approved, the Council expects charges at Hylands Estate to take effect from 20 September.