Car park makeover benefits residents, visitors and bees

The new seating area at Newnham Street car park

Blessing Smith and Christy Buckingham picked the perfect spot to meet for a day in Ely on Monday.

The mother and daughter from Ely sat admiring the wildflowers packed into the new seating area at Newnham Street Car Park with three-month-old Elora-Sunshine.

They are pictured chatting to Councillor Bill Hunt, assets champion at East Cambridgeshire District Council, and Spencer Clark, Open Spaces and Facilities Manager.

Officers and councillors have worked together with East Cambridgeshire Access Group over the last few months to reinvigorate the car park which links the Paradise Centre with Ely city centre.

East Cambridgeshire Access Group is an independent organisation which aims to promote social inclusion through the good design of buildings, facilities and services.

Based on their feedback, three disabled bays have been conveniently located next to the seating area for easy access to the city, and a bank of five repositioned alongside the Paradise Centre, where many disabled people access the fitness centre and exercise classes.

Reconfiguring the free car park has also added a further three standard-size car parking spaces. Dedicated parking areas have also been provided for pushbikes and motorcycles.

A new woodland seating area, crammed with wildflowers, wooden stepping stones and magnolia trees has also been designed to create a pleasant place to sit and hear the bees hum.

Cllr Bill Hunt, said: “We are really pleased with how we have managed to transform this area and make it more accessible for the benefit of residents, visitors and bees alike. More plants will be added later in the year to tie in with planting schedules.

“The fact we live in a rural area means it is vital we are able to provide easily accessible free parking, as well as somewhere for cyclists to leave their bikes, to help boost our local economy. Woodland planting in the seating area also helps increase biodiversity in addition to providing the perfect place to meet up, as Blessing and Christy have done.”

Angie Hill from Manea, who was using the disabled spaces on Monday, added: “This is the first time I’ve visited Ely in six months and now I know these parking spaces are here, I will certainly be back again soon. When I am having a bad day the seating area is ideal for me to stop and have a rest before I continue my journey home.”