Waitrose in Berkhamsted is set to reduce the amount of time customers can park for free – as too many people are ‘misusing’ the car park.
The supermarket wants to cut free parking time at its town centre store from two hours down to 1.5 hours.
The store will also continue to insist that shoppers have to spend a minimum of £10 in store to qualify.
But one member of the local residents’ association fears this could punish elderly and disabled customers, as well as families – and may potentially stop customers nipping into the High Street.
Waitrose want to make the changes due to the increasing pressure the parking spaces are coming under.
Currently, Waitrose customers gets two hours of free parking if they spend £10 in store.
And Susan Johnson, who is on the townscape group of the town’s citizen association, said the changes could potentially draw customers away from visiting the High Street after they’ve shopped at Waitrose.
She said: “Gradually through the years, Waitrose has eroded its relationship with the High Street.
“On top of that they’re now reducing the parking from two hours to 1.5
“If you stop people parking for that little bit longer they can’t walk to the High Street shops, and suddenly they will start driving to the bank further down the road. This will hit elderly and disabled people quite hard.”
The plans only came in a planning application to change the car park signage.
Susan Johnson said this was ‘a very underhand way of introducing the charges’ – but Waitrose said they were due to communicate the changes to customers in the ‘upcoming weeks’.
Until the proposed multi-storey car park is built, the car park, in St John’s Well Lane, is one of the most popular places to park up.
A Waitrose spokesman said: “While we wanted to keep the management of the car park as it was, we have had to respond to the increasing pressure spaces have come under from those misusing it.”