Save Alexandra Gardens
The Conservative 2007-2011 Administration of Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead Council proposed to build a Multi-Storey Car Park at Alexandra Gardens. This car park would have dominated the park and spoilt the Thames river-scape.
In the summer of 2008 the Lib Dems began a strong campaign encompassing petitions, posters, a Facebook Group and an on-line petition to protect Alexandra Gardens from this intrusion.
In response Windsors' Conservatives claimed that their multi-storey car park at Alexandra Gardens would only need one extra storey over the existing car park and wouldn't invade any more of the park.
This claim seemed to the Lib Dems to be quite unrealistic given that the Council Cabinet report claimed up to 500 new spaces would be provided. (Later detective work by the Liberal Democrats traced the source of the 500 figure to a council document "The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, Windsor Parking Strategy, Options Report" which suggested at paragraph 8.2.6 ressurecting previous council plans for a 3 or 4 storey car park.)
The current surface car park has a capacity of 198 cars [http://www.rbwm.gov.uk/web/parking_alexandra_gardens.htm] and some of these spaces are under the railway arches. By going multi storey some space would have been lost for ramps, lifts, stairs etc. Consequently the car park was likely to have a capacity of less than 150 -170 cars per storey.
The Conservatives claimed that the new car park would provide 400-500 new spaces - clearly equating to at least 3 extra storeys - ie 4 storeys in total on top of the existing car park.
If as the Conservatives also claimed the new Alexandra Gardens Car Park would only have had one extra storey - then it would have had to have a bigger footprint - twice the area of the current surface car park - thereby taking more land out of the Gardens.
Another suggestion made by the increasingly desperate Tories as the year went on was that the car park would be underground. This would have been technically possible, however building underground in a free draining soil, with a high water table adjacent to the Thames would have required significant extra expense.
Chapter 11 of the Council's Cabinet Report on the Council's Parking Strategy from July 2008 alluded to the fact that the Alexandra Gardens Car Park would have needed a bigger "footprint" if it was to provide 400 - 500 extra spaces - ie to cover more ground than the current surface car park - see extract below:
"11.1.4. The Alexandra Gardens Car Park could accommodate a facility providing between 400 to 500 spaces, subject to the footprint of the car park"
the original source of this quote is on the council website at this link: [http://www.rbwm.gov.uk/public/meetings_080724_cab_wps_long_term_option.pdf]
The Council Press release confirming 400 additional spaces at Alexandra Gardens at this link: [http://www.rbwm.gov.uk/web/news_11108_windsor_parking_strategy_draft.htm]
An extract from "Around the Royal Borough" confirming the 400 extra spaces at this link: [http://www.windsorlibdems.org.uk/pages/save-alexandra-gardens-extract-around-the-royal-borough.html]
It really wasn't possible for all of the Conservative Councillors' claims to be true.
One of three things had to be true:
either the car park wouldn't provide 400-500 new spaces
or it would have been 3 or 4 storeys tall (as illustrated in the council's own document "Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenehad Windsor Parking Strategy - Options Report" dated 24th July 2008)
or it would have been 2 storeys tall and would have spread even further into the Gardens
In the end the final Cabinet report revised downwards the number of extra spaces the Alexandra Gardens plan would have provided - in line with our calculations. Finally the costs of the scheme were revised upwards towards £10million so that the Tories had to abandon the plan faced by a combination of cost and unpopularity.
More recently it has been rumoured that Conservative Literature has claimed that they had no plans to build the Alexandra Gardens Multi-Storey at all. At other times the Conservatives have tried to claim that consulting on building a car park at Alexandra Gardens did not count as having a plan to build one. We will let you decide!
Page date Mar 09