A TOWN centre car park which was set to close is going to remain open following an appeal from local businesses.

The Davis Place Car Park, on Commercial Road, was earmarked to be turned into green space but will now stay open, with the first hour free for shoppers.

It follows a six month trial which was deemed a success so is being kept on. As well as providing an economic boost to the area it is also hoped the move will help to reduce parking on the pavements along Commercial Road.

The proposal has been welcomed by local traders who had campaigned to keep the car park open.

Nik Hayward, who is the manager of the adjacent Tented Market, had organised a petition which was signed by many nearby businesses.

He said: “I am delighted it is staying open and common sense has finally prevailed.

“We said from the start that it should have been kept open so we’re glad it is going to happen. Not only is it a big boost for all the local shops in the market and surrounding area but we were concerned that making it a grassed area would attract trouble.

“Everyone signed the petition – so there was a lot of feeling about this.”

The sentiments were echoed by others who work in the area.

Mark Holman, who works at T4 Photography, said: “It’s always nice to have a bit of free parking and could bring people to the area.

“It will hopefully be a big boost for us and the other businesses.”

The space was originally set to be transformed as part of the council’s strategy to reduce the number of surplus car parks in the town centre, but they have changed the plan following the response from businesses.

Coun Garry Perkins (Con, Haydon Wick), the Cabinet Member for the Economy, Regeneration and Culture, said: “It was our plan to turn Commercial Road into a green open space as it was felt it would create a pleasant environment for people to enjoy and a nice gateway into the town centre.

“But we have listened to the traders in the area, particularly those in the Tented Market, Market Street and Havelock Square, as they said the closure of the car park would have a real impact on them.

“The decision to change the use of this area and to make it an on-street limited waiting area shows our commitment to local businesses and our desire to increase footfall in the town centre.”

The new proposal will allow parking for one hour with no return within three hours, from 9am to 9pm Monday to Sunday.