A PUBLIC car park in Christchurch town centre is being transferred into the hands of the town council – and will see visitors given 90 minutes of free parking.

The ownership of the Bypass car park is in the process of being transferred from BCP Council to Christchurch Town Council.

The car park, near Waitrose, was first agreed for sale at a BCP Council meeting in September 2023.

Once the transfer is complete, Christchurch Town Council will lease the car park to Waitrose to “secure the business as a major employer in Christchurch.”

There will also be 90 minutes of free parking for shoppers, as well as long stay option, to encourage foot traffic into the town centre.

The town council said Waitrose will undertake the responsibility of maintaining the car park including relining, reinstating the zebra crossing and landscaping the site.

James Atkinson, acting town clerk for Christchurch Town Council, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the town council, to acquire an asset of this magnitude will contribute to the resources and the future development of the services across the Town.

“Christchurch Residents should really get behind this as not only does it secure much needed parking but moreover, provides free parking in the Town Centre.”

Christchurch Town Council said the transfer of ownership brings with it a “multitude of benefits for the community”, and will have no financial burden on the taxpayer as it will not increase the precept.

Mr Atkinson continued: “By leasing the car park to Waitrose, we are helping to secure a big employer – all at no cost to the Christchurch residents.”

In welcoming the asset transfer, councillor Michael Tarling said: "This transition not only reflects the town council's proactive commitment to shaping Christchurch's future with resident interests at heart, but also ensures no added financial burden to taxpayers.

“Moreover, the promise of 90 minutes of free parking in our town centre will foster increased foot traffic, benefiting local businesses and enhancing accessibility for residents and visitors alike.”

Waitrose Christchurch branch manager, Neil Scorey, said: “The proposed agreement for the car park not only allows us to make parking easier for our customers to ensure they have an even better shopping experience, but reinforces our long-term commitment to the town.”