It’s no April Fool’s prank for Farnham, Haslemere and Godalming as parking charges are set to increase in all Waverley council-run car parks from Monday April 1.

Fares will increase by as much as 18 per cent in some cases and 12 per cent on average after a two-and-a-half year price freeze was thawed at the borough’s budget meeting last week.

The hikes – which include a £4 increase to all-day parking in Farnham’s Central and Haslemere’s High Street car parks to £26 – have left many people concerned about what this will mean for business and workers.

“It’s going to kill the town off,” said Liz Fearnley, owner of Sweet Lizzy in Downing Street, Farnham. “Why would you spend an hour trying to get through the traffic then to be paying two or three times more than what you can pay in other towns.

“It will make things more difficult and on top of the proposed September pavement widening it’s going to stop people from coming into town.”

Co-owner of Rainbow Roar in Downing Street, Farnham, Sarah Arbury said: “It’s probably going to have an impact unfortunately and there is not much we can do about it. We have started opening up on Sundays because parking is free and it’s quite busy so I hope that doesn’t change. 

“They are doing it for a reason but it’s a worry.”

The manager at Between the Lines in The Borough said: “I think the town now struggles more than it used to and I don’t think it’s going to do the town any favours. 

“I know there was a Community Board and they were trying to see if there was a way to do a subsided parking for employees working in the town but haven’t heard anything.”

A Farnham shop worker said she parks in the UCA car park because it’s cheaper and worries what the fare increases will mean for trying to find parking in the long-run.

Another person said: “This will not encourage shoppers and tourists to visit Farnham and there are no thoughts for the shop owners trying to survive the costs of today’s prices.”

There is also concern  about the future of free parking on Sundays.

One worker said: “If they start charging on a Sunday then that will really hurt the business.”

The car parking hikes, which mark an 18 per cent rise in just three years, have caught local councils by surprise too – with Haslemere Town Council expressing shock as Waverley had not notified town councils of the changes.

Defending the hikes, Councillor Tony Fairclough, Waverley Borough Council portfolio holder for enforcement and regulatory services said: “To support the high street post Covid, parking charges have been frozen for almost two and a half years, but rising financial pressures mean we are forced to increase them in line with inflation over that period.

“We understand the concerns of residents and businesses, but we know from our parking strategy review that, although charges do influence behaviour, it is the availability and ease of finding a space that is the most significant factor in influencing where people choose to shop, work, or establish businesses.

“Our parking charges are different in each car park to reflect the demand for parking spaces and encourage a regular turnover of parking spaces in busy areas, so people are able to find a convenient place to park and can continue to support local shops.

“For people looking to make a quick visit, the price to park for one hour will increase by just 10p and we are offering lower hourly rates in car parks at the edge of town for people who wish to park for longer periods, helping to reduce congestion and lower emissions.

“The income generated through parking charges supports the management and maintenance of our car parks, but it is also essential to help fund our environmental services like refuse and recycling collections, street cleaning and our wonderful parks and open spaces.”

How much will it cost to park in Waverley after price rises?

To park in Farnham’s Central car park people can expect to pay £1.30 for one hour after April 1, up from £1.10. For two hours it’s increasing from £2.20 to £2.60 and for a stay of 10.5 hours you will be forking out £26 which is a £4 increase.

A ticket in Lower Hart will also be £26 for 10.5 hours – as will the new Brightwells Yard car park.

Waggon Yard, another of Farnham’s bigger car parks will see an increase of 10p for one hour at 90p and two hours is changing from £1.60 to £1.90. 

The Leisure Centre, Upper Hart, St James and Riverside spaces will be the same as Waggon Yard’s one and two hour rates.

Haslemere’s High Street car park will cost £1.30 for one hour, up from £1.10, and £2.60 for two hours, up from £2.20. A 10.5 hour stay increases from £22 to £26.

Parking for up to 10.5 hours in Haslemere’s Weydown Road car park – popular with commuters – will increase from £6 to  £7.10 on weekdays and Saturdays.

Find a breakdown of the new charges in full on Page 28 of this document: