The end of free parking is almost here as workmen roll in to start work transforming Abbey Fields into a patrolled Pay and Display car park.
On Tuesday. Warwick District Council workers started work to resurface the informal parking area and instal ticket machines.
Construction work is expected to last around four weeks, during which time a temporary all weather surface has been laid to make space for 50 vehicles in the lower field adjacent to the site.
Up to 40 spaces will also be available for free parking at the old playground at Abbotsford School, off New Street, during the works.
Damaged trees at the entrance and exit point have also been removed to improve traffic flow.
The changes will mean a reduction of spaces from 130-140 informal parking spaces to 109 identified spaces, including four disability spaces.
St Nicholas church will be given set spaces for services.
But the changes have not been welcomed by all as many nearby residents and workers in High Street fear the loss of free parking will leave them with costly bills in the absence of any free parking provision outside their homes and businesses.
District Cllr Ann Blacklock (Lib Dem) said: “We are glad they have overcome the drainage issues so that flooding will not be a problem, but this is not welcomed at all.
“The church has been limited to just a handful of spaces, which really is no good at all.
“Not to mention residents and the workers who will be hit by this and have to face very high charges.”
Warwick District Council last year approved its own application to resurface the parking area and create allocated spaces.
Work is expected to finish at the end of September when full charges will apply from 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday.
Parking for the first two hours will be free, with charges set at £1.50 for up to three hours, £2 for four hours and £2.50 for more than four hours. Season tickets will cost £375.32 a year.
The move is planned to bring in thousands of pounds each year and shift maintenance costs from the council and taxpayers to the parkers who use the space.
English Heritage has not objected subject to a suitable “stone-like” hard surface being laid on land so close to the nearby remains of the Abbey of St Mary.
And district Cllr Dave Shilton (Con, Park Hill) previously explained that he feels the charges are inevitable to stop people parking all day and blocking space for those who need to come and go for a short time to use the swimming pool, Abbey Fields or shops in High Street.
“We are giving two hours free so that will not stop dog walkers or people swimming or shopping in town,” he said.
“We have to reduce the size of the car park because we have to move it further back from the trees.
“This move is the best for the area and residents who need it have been considered with parking permits.”