PLANS to drastically cut free parking times in Knutsford could hit shops and businesses, it is feared.

Knutsford Town Council is urging Cheshire East Council to abandon its proposals to reduce on-street parking times and increase charges in the town.

Existing one-hour bays would be cut to 30 minutes, whilst two-hour stays by the Moor would be reduced to one hour.

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The two-hour bays at Tatton Park would also be cut to only 30 minutes.

The town’s business community is concerned about the effect this could have on footfall to their businesses.

Knutsford councillors are also worried about the impact it could have on the everyday wellbeing of the community.

Cllr Christopher Gray, chairman of the town council’s town centre committee, said: “These restrictions will undoubtedly make shopping for many residents a chore and a worry as time becomes of the essence.

“Shopping and meeting friends and neighbours, often by accident, contribute greatly to our wellbeing and these proposals threaten this.”

The town council’s consultation response argues that the proposals will result in fewer visits to local businesses ‘at a time when independent retail and small town centres are struggling the most’.

Councillors also refute CEC claims that the changes will reduce the number of cars parked on streets and make the town centre safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Instead, they fear the changes will result in a greater volume of traffic movement on the town’s narrow streets, with ‘potentially double the number of car movements’ reversing into and emerging from parking bays.

Councillors say this would ‘reduce the safety of pedestrians and cyclists and increase air pollution’.

The fear of getting a parking ticket will mean that shoppers are likely to return to their cars after picking up an intended item.

Whereas, at present, they are free to browse round and possibly visit more shops.

Bays on Hillside Road, King Street (north of Drury Lane) and Ruskin Court are presently limited to two hours.

They provide a longer period of parking for visitors to Tatton Park or the town centre.

Cutting the time to just 30 minutes, councillors say, will render them ‘useless’ as there won’t be enough time to walk into the park or the shops.

Parking in bays on Green Street will be reduced from two hours to one hour.

These are beside The Moor and are well used by families and visitors.

The town council’s consultation response states: “The town council strongly objects to these proposals and considers no changes should be introduced to on-street parking.

The town council highlights that the planned changes will only increase CEC’s revenue by £1,381 ‘which does not justify the potential harm to the town centre’.

Councillors has also expressed its disappointment at CEC’s failure to make provision for coach parking despite being lobbied by the town council for many years.

Consultation closes on Wednesday, November 1.

Residents can have their say by emailing