THE council’s business arm has warned its planners of the potential damage to the town centre if they grant Tesco’s request to cut free parking.
The supermarket wants to scrap a planning condition allowing two hours’ free and impose a £5 minimum spend if vehicles are left for over half an hour.
Rotherham Investment and Development Office - the business arm of Rotherham Borough Council - said firms feared a drop in customers if the change was approved by the planning board.
A spokesman added: “By removing this option, there is a high risk of negatively impacting on footfall, and discouraging shoppers who visit the store from also visiting the town centre.”
Businesses and shoppers felt the location and availability of free parking played an important role in bringing people into town, he said.
The spokesman added: “Following consultation with the market service committee, members have unanimously objected to the planning application on the grounds that they believe this will drive customers away from the markets complex and damage town centre footfall as a whole.”
Two hours’ free parking - for customers and non-customers - was included as a condition when the Drummond Street Tesco plans were passed in 2012.
Another resident, responding to the planning application, said: “Tesco should not be allowed to alter their free parking agreement.
“Surely they are making a big enough profit as it is and, as one of the largest supermarkets, it’s only fair that they should give something back to the people of Rotherham and its visitors.”
Associate Roderick MacLeod, of chartered surveyors Montagu Evans, acting on behalf of Tesco, said the revised parking policy would ensure a greater turnover of parking, meaning more freely available spaces for shoppers.
An application for three number plate recognition cameras in the car park has already been granted by the council.