Mansfield mayor Tony Egginton has made it a priority to oversee the redevelopment of the town’s Stockwell Gate area before he retires from office in 18 months’ time.
And he has moved to reassure the public that the new car park located on the old bus station, which opened last Wednesday, is only intended to be temporary.
Critics say another car park is not needed, given the amount of similar sites already serving the town centre, including one in close proximity on the old Courtaulds site.
Others are worried it creates a poor first impression of Mansfield for those travelling in via Sutton Road.
But Mr Egginton said: “The bigger picture is that we want to see new shopping facilities and a new anchor store that are connected to the rear entrance of the Four Seasons Shopping Centre for a bigger and better retailing offering.
“Although we have quite a long way to go, that has always been the plan. The car park is purely a short term measure, hopefully particularly short-term.
“We want to work with all parties to ensure that Stockwell Gate area is linked to the new bus station in the long-term, giving people a choice of where to go when they alight from their buses.
“There’s no doubt it’s major gateway for the town and we need to make sure we get it right, because it’s the first impression people get coming down Sutton Road.
“I’m fairly confident it will happen - it’s one of my legacy aims. When I retire in 18 months’ time, I would like to think the issue is resolved and plans are in place.”
“We want to make Mansfield a sub-regional shopping hub for Nottinghamshire, as it used to be, with a regeneration of the market, which is only right as a market town. The ‘townscape’ area along White Hart Street and Church Street are other parts of the long-term plans for the town centre.”
The new Stockwell Gate North car park has 109 parking spaces, with an additional 11 disabled parking bays and 12 spaces for motorbikes.
Prices for parking are £1 per hour, with a maximum of four hours stay between 8am and 4pm. The car park will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It replaces the 85 spaces previously provided by Station Road car park, which is now the site of the new bus station.
Coun Kate Allsop, portfolio holder for economic regeneration at Mansfield District Council, said: “We recognise that the old bus station site is crucial to the development and regeneration of the town centre as it provides an excellent location for the larger retail outlets that are needed to ensure Mansfield remains the sub-regional shopping and leisure destination of choice.
“While we seek to find a suitable partner to develop this location, we have created a temporary car park on the site. This will enhance access to the town centre and will encourage more people to visit the area.”
The car park has received a cautious welcome from local traders in the immediate vicinity, many of who were hard hit when the old bus station closed.
Patrick Slack, who own’s Slack’s news kiosk on Rosemary Street, said: “I lost around 20 per cent of my business when the old bus station shut down and I know others were similarly affected, so anything that brings people this way has to be a good thing.”
“It’s still early days, but the car park was certainly very busy on Saturday.”