PARKING charges could be on the way to Billingham town centre after council chiefs backed proposals.
Senior councillors approved a borough-wide car parking strategy which it says will support economic success and continued growth of town centres.
There are eight off-street car parks in Billingham town centre, all of which are free for unlimited time.
Five are controlled by private firm Stockland, which is leading regeneration plans for the town centre while Stockton Borough Council owns and manages those at The Forum, Art Gallery and Community Centre.
All on-street spaces and some off-street parking on Rothbury Street, popular with shoppers and visitors, are also under the council’s ownership.
The council’s cabinet agreed to support the introduction of parking controls in its off-street car parks in the town centre.
But it said the controls should only be introduced alongside the economic regeneration scheme being led by Stockland.
Council papers said Stockland could introduce short stay charging for the closest town centre car parks on completion of the scheme.
And the council fears long stay commuters could be pushed to nearby residential streets leading to residents permit parking scheme to protect residents if it does not change its parking arrangements.
A report stated: “An appropriate charging regime in the council owned and managed car parks would need to support the overall town centre economic growth strategy of Stockland in due course.”
Councillor Mike Smith, Stockton Borough Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and transport, said: “We are committed to supporting the economic development and growth of all our town centres and making it as easy and attractive as possible for visitors heading in to shop, socialise or work.
“In Billingham we will continue to work closely with the private owners to alleviate any parking problems and look at future plans.”