Cathays local shops say they are losing business because of new parking rules

Staff and customers claim they are struggling because of tighter restrictions on parking

BUSINESSES in Cathays say they are losing trade due to tighter parking restrictions in the area.

They say takings have suffered a hit because customers are struggling to park – and so are staff.

Until the summer of 2022, there were many roads in Cathays that had no parking restrictions and were therefore free. But many of these roads have now changed to resident-only, meaning that only permit-holders can park there.

There are now only a limited number of spaces that aren’t exclusively for residents. Some businesses that operate in Cathays are not allowed permits. Other can buy a limited number. Consequently, individuals who are not local to Cathays, or who are visiting to go shopping, are finding it near impossible to park.

W.J. Gardner, on Crwys Road, is the oldest paint shop in South Wales and is managed by Liam Slater.

W.J. Gardner, 131-141 Crwys Rd

He said: “There’s nowhere to park anymore. The council turned up with this plan in May of this year. Since then, every business here has noticed a drop in business, a drop in customers.”

Prior to the changes, customers could quite easily park outside the building. However, this is not the case anymore.

“Every customer walks in here and the first thing they tell you is how annoyed they are with driving around,” Mr Slater added.

These issues are not just affecting customers, but also the staff’s ability to get to work and park nearby. Mr Slater told us how one of his staff was recently fined for parking.

“Kieran, one of our staff, got a parking ticket the other day. He had to pay £30 to come to work.

“We asked those in charge if we could apply for permits for staff, they said no. We asked if we could pay for anything for staff, they said no. There wasn’t any solution – they just said no,” he added.

Liam Slater and his staff at W.J. Gardner

Now businesses like Mr Slater’s are being forced to consider relocating to tackle the problem.

“The head office is looking at options with retail parks because that is where you can park. It’s a pity because I’d hate to leave here.

“We’re not asking for too much, we just want customers to be allowed to access stores like ours and to keep that community sense. Retail parks just don’t do that.”

W.J. Gardner is not the only business which is having to deal with the impact parking changes are having.

Lark Design Make is a small business on Dogfield Street, off Crwys Road, which offers craft workshops. Its owner, Gemma Forde, moved her business onto the road in April 2021.

“When I first moved in a year ago it was nice and easy to park here but since they put all the residential parking everywhere, it’s been pretty impossible to park within half a mile. This is hard when most of my classes are in the evening,” Ms Forde said.

Almost all of her weekday classes start at 6.30pm and finish at 9pm. Lark Design’s clientele is 95% female which raises issues of safety when walking home late at night.

“I do worry about my customers who don’t live in places like this and don’t feel comfortable walking a long distance by themselves, I do believe it puts people off,” she said.

Lark Design Make, 36 Dogfield St

Scott Buglass from Crwys Keys described the situation as “awful”.

“I’ve been here for 20-plus years. The pedestrian flow is just gone now. You just get the odd person walking past,” Mr Buglass said.

“At least 70% of customers are complaining about it. I asked regulars why I don’t see them anymore; they say it’s because of parking. They just go elsewhere.”

Crwys Keycutting and Shoe Repairs, Facebook page

Often, customers drive round for long periods of time then eventually have no choice but to give up, according to Gareth Moggridge, owner of Pring’s Butchers.

“With the lack of parking and them taking so many spaces away, we’re finding customers not coming as often as they would do or not at all now. They have said they’ve been driving round for half an hour trying to find a space and they can’t do it,” he said.

Pring Family Butchers, Facebook page

This opinion was echoed by Darren Stone from Cyclopedia.

“You are bound to have some customers going round loads, giving it a miss then going somewhere else,” he said.

Speaking on the matter, Councillor Norma Mackie said the changes to parking in the area have been to encourage healthier living and to help residents.

“The new system has gone into place because there was nowhere to park in Cathays at all and the system allows residents to park,” she said.

“Residents are a lot happier because they can now park in their areas. It is a trial at the minute, to see if it’s working for residents and most students have got used to the idea.

“Most businesses have been offered two parking permits.”

She said that there are still a lot of places customers can park on a two-hour no return basis, or pat to park for up to five hours.

She added: “We want people to get public transport or to cycle in – for health reasons and to bring down pollution levels.”