The Windmill PH introduces parking restrictions from today.

The Windmill PH in the Eyhorne Street Conservation Area has introduced a ban on parking by non customers during the hours of 8am and 9pm with the possibility of penalties being levied. This morning warning notices have been attached to several cars and signs are shortly to be installed warning of penalties. Non-customers will be able to park at the discretion of the Windmill overnight from 9pm to 8am.

The Windmill PH car park which is owned by EI Group PLC (formerly Enterprise Inns PLC) and leased to Richard Phillips extends to the Hollingbourne Village Hall which has a small car park at the rear which is only available for users of the Hall. Access to both the Windmill PH car park and the Village Hall is via the Windmill Lane Public Footpath (PROW KH199) which is part owned by EI Group PLC and which has been maintained by local residents and the Village Hall Committee. The section of the 3 metre wide Footpath which runs alongside the car park is not owned by EI Group PLC.

Over the last few decades successive Windmill PH licensees have let local residents park in the car park with varying levels of discretion varying from a total ban to open parking. The car park has also been used by the other shops and businesses in Eyhorne Street because street parking is difficult. Hollingbourne Parish Council had not been aware of this change of policy until today.

According to Ms Sam Beadle who is PA to Chef/Patron Richard Phillips, a number of customers have complained about the lack of parking at the increasingly popular Michelin rated Windmill so the ban has had to be introduced. The parking issue has been mentioned on Trip Advisor. Mr Phillips also runs the popular Pearson’s Arms in Whitstable and Thackeray’s Restaurant in Tunbridge Wells.

The lack of parking in the Eyhorne Street Conservation Area is of concern to local residents and users of the Village Hall which has a capacity of around 100 for events which range from meetings, shows, talks, exercise classes, plays, and as a rehearsal space for TV programmes to be broadcast from Maidstone TV studios. In order to attract bookings from outside of the village in order to make the Village Hall viable the availability of suitable parking is critical. The Village Hall Committee is currently renegotiating the lease on the Village Hall with EI Group PLC which expired in August 2016. The Hall was built in 1968 on land leased from the Whitbread brewery who have subsequently sold their interest to EI Group PLC.

According to John Holley, Chairman of the Village Hall Committee, prior  to the time of the previous Village Hall lease renewal in 1996 up to half of the present Windmill PH car park was allocated to the Village Hall. A small section of curb which marked the dividing line between the Village Hall and the Windmill PH spaces has since been removed.

Until the late 1980’s the Village Hall had no parking space at the rear as the present car park was a green space which was used by the Village Pre School Group who subsequently moved to the Cardwell Pavilion. At that time Village Hall users parked in the joint Windmill and Village Hall car park.

Parking in the Eyhorne Street area has become an issue especially since the increase last year in rents of the garages in Eyhorne Mews following the sale of the garages to a developer. Many of the garages are now empty. There are insufficient parking spaces in Eyhorne Street for all the houses and where they exist Eyhorne Street is effectively one way which regularly causes traffic jams on the B2163/C603. Car traffic through the village is likely to increase from April 2018 with the ending of Hollingbourne’s number 13 bus service to Maidstone as the result of KCC funding cuts.

Pictured below is one of the first warning notices to be attached to a car in the Windmill PH car park.