Free parking plan paves way for Leeds Bradford Airport expansion

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A free parking area is to be laid out at Leeds-Bradford Airport to help tackle the traffic congestion caused by motorists picking up and dropping off passengers.

But the controversial £2 charge to park for up to 30 minutes on the forecourt immediately outside the terminal is to stay.

Airport bosses sparked a row when they introduced the charge in May last year.

To avoid the £2 fee, many motorists have opted to drop off and pick up on Whitehouse Lane – the main approach to the airport – causing congestion and safety concerns.

In a bid to tackle the problem, the airport has allowed people to park anywhere in the long-stay car park for up to one hour for pick-ups and drop-offs.

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Now it is going a step further and is to create a dedicated one-hour free parking zone that will have 51 spaces and be a five minute walk from the terminal.

Members of the council’s west plans panel voted to accept the airport’s proposal as part of a new forecourt management plan, a decision that paves the way for work to start on a new two-storey terminal extension, which would allow the airport to handle up to five million passengers a year.

Councillors had pressed for motorists to be allowed to park on the forecourt free for up to 10 minutes, an idea rejected by airport chiefs because the current system brings in money.

A report to the panel said: “Forecourt charging is now regrettably common place across the UK’s airports.

“Leeds Bradford International Airport have stated that it is a key element of the revenue generation for all airports and in the case of LBIA, it will ensure that they can continue to invest in improvements to infrastructure and facilities.”

Coun Neil Taggart, who chaired the panel, said the airport had made some movement from its original position and added: “We should give a green light to the proposal as a thriving airport is in everyone’s interest.”

Coun Paul Wadsworth (Con, Guiseley and Rawdon) argued the airport had not gone far enough in tackling the issue of traffic circulation.

PIC: Neil Cross

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