Backlash over parking fines at new Sheffield retail park prompts review

Bosses of a busy retail park in Sheffield are reviewing controversial parking restrictions after a string of complaints from angry shoppers hit with fines.

Tuesday, 4th December 2018, 8:37 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th December 2018, 8:40 am
St James Retail Park in Meadowhead

St James Retail Park has proved popular since opening this summer at the former Norton College site, just off the Bochum Parkway in Meadowhead.

But the strict three-hour parking limit has provoked a furious backlash from customers, with many complaining this does not leave enough time to explore all its stores and cafes or saying the restrictions are not displayed prominently enough, after being stung for staying too long.

St James Retail Park in Meadowhead

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Bosses there claim a maximum stay is necessary due to a lack of available parking at the park, where parking is free and there are 419 spaces, and they insist this is adequately signposted.

But they say the time limit is under review and they will listen to people's views.

The park's two-star rating on TripAdvisor is dragged down by angry drivers venting about how they were hit with hefty £90 fines, reduced to £50 for prompt payment, despite spending plenty of money during their visit.

One of the signs advertising the three-hour maximum stay

One shopper says in her review she was unaware of the maximum stay and was '˜disgusted' to receive the penalty, another says she will never return after being fined for staying 20 minutes too long, and a third was so upset at being fined she brands it '˜the most disgusting retail park I have ever been in'.

Marisa Andrew told The Star how she was fined after a recent trip, during which she visited several shops and made two pit stops at Costa Coffee.

'I won't bother to go back and judging by the number of comments online, I'm not alone,' she said.

'Do the shops know how many of their customers are being penalised? Do they care? Who is the landowner and how did they come up with an arbitrary three hours? How much money is someone making out of unsuspecting shoppers?'

Scott Henshaw, of Gleadless, said he and his partner were horrified to receive a fine after spending more than £300 during their visit last month.

'I feel duped and hoodwinked and totally undervalued as a patron of the stores on this complex, and I can guarantee that I will not return there out of total principle,' he said.

Matthew Thompson, the managing agent for the retail park, said: 'In essence the park is proving extremely popular with the local community '“ which is fantastic.

'We want to ensure all visitors get a fair opportunity to use the park and don't have to turn away due to lack of available parking so unfortunately this means that some parking restrictions are necessary.

'We will keep this under review into 2019 and listen to the views of the public, retailers and the local authority in any future decisions we make to adjust the maximum stay.

'With regard to the signage, we currently have in excess of 20 advisory signs across the park as well as a pre-warning sign at the entrance.

'Compared with other retail parks of this nature, I believe this to be more than adequate. As this is an issue that has been raised, however, we will certainly take this on board and will look at potentially installing another sign at the entrance for clarity.'