Sevenoaks Car Parking: Here’s the Plan (we think)

Note: the latest information on Sevenoaks Car Park 4 is in a subsequent post here

Credit: @scottacr

Credit: @scottacr

We have already written about the car parking difficulties at Sevenoaks station, and this was a big issue raised at our Annual General Meeting on Thursday 20 October.

We’ve been pressing Southeastern to give precise details of the parking arrangements for Car Park 4 starting tomorrow, Monday 24 October. Here’s the plan as we understand it:

  • the “upper” car park – the main part of the car park, up the ramp, will be reserved for car parking season ticket holders until 0830. We think that the ramp itself is part of this area. There is enough space for all season ticket holders.
  • the “lower” car park – the overflow area on the right immediately as you enter the car park, before the ramp, will be reserved for on-the-day payment until 0830. It has about 60 spaces.
  • from 0830 there will be no restrictions anywhere – although as always parking is only allowed in marked and unreserved bays. Because the upper car park has slightly more spaces than issued season tickets it will mean that there will be at least 40 spaces there available for season ticket holders and day parkers on a first-come, first-served basis from 0830 onwards.

This seems to us a system that people could understand and that strikes a balance between season ticket holders and day parkers. It also allows some spaces for those who need to travel after 0830, such as those who have to drop their children at school first.

It’s not clear how scratchcards and machine-issued weekly tickets are handled. We think that these are counted as day parking, and need to use the lower car park. But this needs to be checked. Update 24 October: Southeastern have confirmed that weekly, scratch card and daily tickets count as day tickets.

There will be marshals to direct people to the correct area, at least on the first few mornings. However the signage still needs to be improved: there is no signage yet in the lower car park at all saying that the area is restricted to day parkers until 0830 (will day parkers risk a £100 fine by relying on the absence of notices in one area?) and the signs throughout the upper area refer to “This car park” – with no indication that this means just the “Upper” car park. We think the new signage needs:

  • to be clear which rules apply to which area when
  • to be easily read at a glance from a moving vehicle
  • to give plenty of advance warning that early day parkers must divert off to the right into the lower car park

We have also suggested that for the first few days, and for the first offence, motorists parking in the wrong place will just be given a warning rather than a fine. Southeastern need to be seen as helping resolve the conflicting interests of different customers at the present difficult time, not using the opportunity to make some extra profit.

There is no change in the arrangements for Car Park 1: this is still reserved all day, Monday to Friday, for those with season tickets for this particular car park.

Please let us know your experience of the new system: is it clear? is it better? You can comment here.


Sevenoaks Car Parking: Here’s the Plan (we think) — 19 Comments

  1. Car Park 4 is the only non-season ticket car park and contains 528 spaces. 60 spaces on the lower level and the 40 spaces left on the top deck after 8:30 assumes that in the whole of the Sevenoaks’ area there are only 100 people working part-time or only work some days in London (and drive to the station). This also assumes that nearly all these people want to get into work after 9:30. This clearly isn’t the case. If you are a part-time worker that needs to get in before 9:30, then you will not be able to park at the station.
    Could the Morewood Close temporary car park be for day passes as well? This replaced a car park where day passes could be used.

  2. So at 7:30 today the lower level is full. So what happens next week when people go back after half term. Does this mean that if the lower level is full a daily payer or someone who buys a weekly permit on line will not be able to park on the upper level until 8:30?

  3. @steve Thanks for the feedback on this. We’re still awaiting information from Southeastern about the status of weekly permits. What did the helpers at the car park say about them please?

  4. Please would someone clarify whether a weekly season ticket bought at the ticket offers is valid in the upper car park.

    Many thanks.

  5. @Deborah We’re trying to find out. We think that weekly tickets count as day parking – you may need the Meteor badge on the windscreen with a registration number to count as a season ticket since Southeastern’s calculation of how many spaces to reserve seems to work around the number of those in issue.

  6. Update: Southeastern have told us this morning that they are trying to adjust the reserved areas so that there will be a season ticket area nearest to the station that matches the number of season tickets issued, and a management regime that enforces that.

  7. Thank you for your reply. Could you also let me know how long this disruption will be going on for – i.e. when things will be back to normal.

  8. @Deborah Southeastern have just confirmed to us that weekly, scratch card and daily tickets count as day tickets and are not valid in the season ticket area until 0830.

  9. @Deborah

    The Sevenoaks District Council car park in Bradbourne Park Road will not re-open until “early 2017” so the disruption may last until then. But a contributory factor is the disruption on Southern rail services, which has led some of their customers to come to Sevenoaks to use Southeastern services instead.

    However Southeastern say that they are going to fine-tune the reserved areas and Sevenoaks District Council are looking at whether better use can be made of the under-used temporary car park in Morewood Close (which is only open to SDC season ticket holders).

  10. South Eastern said this morning when I met them on site that:

    – they will mark out the 280 spaces closest to the station as reserved for season ticket holders only up to 08.30 – that just about matches the number of season tickets issued for that car park
    – they will take our the staff parking immediately
    – weekly, scratch card and day tickets will have the rest of the car park – about 260 space – all day, and any spaces in the reserved part after 8.30
    – fines issued in the chaos of last week have been rescinded – but it looks as if you have to ask.

    There was spare space every where except the lower car park area today – because it’s half term. But they expect more tomorrow with the Southern strike.

  11. When Bradbourne reopens I understand that there will be a net increase of 42 spaces as SDC intend to restrict current on street permit places by 70. This seems insufficient to solve the current parking problems. Roads such as Hitchen Hatch are wide and can easily accommodate some commuter parking (come April they will doubtless be empty all day) – it seems SDC are missing an opportunity to solve commuter parking in the long term. Should we not lobby SDC to keep the on street parking, even if it is a reduced amount? We can not restrict who parks outside our house yet if you live in the town it is a given you are allowed to do so. The net increase also assumes that once the hotel is built, visitors vacate the car park in time for the commuter rush.

  12. At 7am this morning there were less than 10 spaces left in the lower section. Do you know what the contingency is once that’s full? The upper part was about 3/4 empty! It’s half term this week so it’s only likely to be busier next week.

  13. @Scott: Thanks for this report. In discussion with Southeastern yesterday they agreed to make more spaces available in the upper section for day parkers. This will mean changing the signage etc so we’re not sure how long it will take to implement.

  14. So today we have cones splitting the upper car park with season ticket holders being directed to the area nearest the station and day parkers either in the lower car park (full and coned off by 7:30) or on the upper level furthest away from the station.

  15. @steve

    Thanks for this update. This is what we were expecting following our discussions with the Southeastern manager at the station yesterday. The idea is to reduce the size of the area reserved for season ticket holders down to the number of monthly and annual tickets being used. Season ticket holders get the spaces closest to the station.

  16. Who cares where we actually park as long as we can park.
    Had to travel from Swanley today – ultra slow train to a London station I did not wish to arrive at.
    Please can whomever is in charge of this parking fiasco please think of the regular commuter who just wants to get to work !

  17. I fail to see why any area has to be reserved for annual season ticket holders only, in fact why does anything have to change at all, surely the car park should be on a first come first served basis as it usually is and if a season ticket holder can’t get a space then they can get a refund for that day – I buy a weekly ticket and there have been a couple of mornings recently when I couldn’t get in and I parked in the long stay in Sevenoaks and walked down the hill – it really isn’t rocket science.

  18. For the mums who came to SRTA’s Annual meeting, ‘first come first served’ does not work. If you have to deliver children to school, then get a train to a 9.15 meeting in the City, getting your money back on the days you have to park 30 minutes away is no help. Thanks to the closure of Sevenoak District Council’s car park for a year, Sevenoaks station is 210 spaces short – and that includes a signifiant number of day spaces as well as season ticket holders.
    South Eastern originally over reacted by reserving too many spaces for season tickets – and they think they have now fixed it. SDC reserved all their spaces in their temporary car park for season ticket holders, and this week are having a rethink.
    The big test will be Monday when half term is over.

  19. I have experienced constant disruption since the closure of Bradborune Road carpark in October. It seems that there’s consistently unoccupied bays (around 50 plus)within the reserved area for permit holders between 8am to 8.30am in Carpark 4 which is very prohibitive for weekly or daily ticket holders who face a large fine if they use this area. Why can’t the time be bought forward to 8am, in which weekly commuters can at least start filling up the season ticket demarked area? Alternatively – I’d buy a season ticket however none are being sold! We definitely need a solution as this is completely untenable and this morning I have to sit in my vehicle from 8am to 8.30am to avoid a fine – when two thirds of the permit holders area was completely empty – meaning that I was 40 minutes late for work. I am a desperate daily commuter who needs some reasonable solution please!

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