In May 2019, the Dartington Hall Trust took the decision to raise parking charges across the estate in line with similar places of interest in Devon. We are a charity run as a social enterprise and revenue from parking, as well as our various restaurants, shops and commercial enterprises, are critical to providing income needed to maintain and run the estate.
We realise that any change is difficult and there are many who will have questions about how the changes will impact on them and why we have made the decisions we have. So we have attempted to answer some of the questions most likely to come up here.
Why have you increased parking charges?
The parking charges have remained the same since about 2013 – and were set at a very low level (well below the charges for similar places locally). We offer a great deal for free on the estate – including access to our beautiful gardens and woodlands. The unfortunate fact is that it is not possible for us to continue to make these accessible to all unless we can raise enough revenue from visitors to the estate in order to cover the cost of maintaining them.
We would love to be able to give everything for free – we know many of our visitors are on fixed incomes and that any change is difficult- but we can’t make the books balance (which we need to do) unless we make some difficult decisions.
How have you decided on these charges – it seems a big percentage increase?
It is a big percentage increase – but from a very low level. We were charging £1 for four hours which was significantly cheaper than other places/offers. Unfortunately it was not sustainable to keep parking charges at this very low level.
We compared our prices carefully with other similar offers (and have endeavoured to remain cheaper than parking in Totnes) in order to set these charges which we feel are still reasonable.
Why do Blue Badge holders require a permit? They never used to.
We looked very carefully at this question and again, compared our policy with other similar organisations. Ultimately, we felt that it was not a consistent or fair policy to offer free parking to some visitors but not to others. Most similar venues, as far as we can determine, charge similarly.
Please note: the exception to this is a few spaces which will remain free to Blue Badge holders at Aller Park and the Shippon Artists Studios because it was not feasible to place a parking charge point near those parking spaces. We felt it was unreasonable and counter-intuitive to ask Blue Badge holders to travel a significant distance from where they parked in order to pay.
Why have you brought in a number plate recognition system – surely that was an unnecessary expense?
We modelled a variety of different options and this was the most feasible and cost-effective for us given the difficulties and constraints of our site. We know that the previous parking metres often failed and we were losing a great deal of (much needed) income/ revenue. This system should be more consistent and (hopefully) easier for our visitors to use.
Will the system take a video of me or my passengers, or capture of photo of me walking through the car park? How long are the images stored for?
No – the image will be only of your registration plate. The images are stored for a period of 3-5 days unless a parking infringement has taken place in which case the images will be kept until the penalty charge has been settled.
The ANPR system is motion-activated, but won’t capture people walking past. It will only take a photograph of a vehicle as it enters or leaves The Shops or the main car parks up at Higher Close or behind The Green Table.
Why are the tariffs at the Shops difference to the rest of the estate?
We are trialling an hour of free parking at The Shops as an alternative to the previous parking voucher refund of £1. By doing it this way, we reduce the waste of paper tickets and give people an opportunity to pop into The Shops for a loaf of bread or pick their children up from the nearby school.
We will continue to add to these FAQs as we get more questions coming through! Thank you for your interest and support for Dartington.