PARKING problems in Coulsdon town centre could be alleviated by allowing motorists to park on the "rarely used" bus lane on the town's bypass, according to local councillors.
The idea is among a number of suggestions made in a letter sent to Croydon Council leader Tony Newman and Transport for London commissioner Sir Peter Hendy on behalf of all six Coulsdon councillors last week.
They say residents and traders are concerned that the closure of Lion Green Road car park in November for at least 15 months, while a new Waitrose supermarket and community centre are built, will hit trade in the town, especially during the busy Christmas period.
Councillors Luke Clancy, Jeet Bains, Mario Creatura, Christopher Wright, Margaret Bird and James Thompson also suggest delaying the closure of the car park until spaces at the new Aldi store in Brighton Road are ready early next year.
Referring to the plan to use the A23 Farthing Way bus lane for parking they said: "With the road heavily congested it infuriates motorists and residents who see the lane as a waste of much needed space."
But Charles King, chairman of Coulsdon East Residents' Association, dismissed the idea as "nonsense".
He said: "The bypass plan is bonkers. Who wants to park on the bypass? It's nowhere near the town centre and it's used by emergency vehicles during the day.
"What we want is a proper car park in the town centre and I really think the developers ought not to do anything in Lion Green road before Christmas."
Alan Harris, who runs Coulsdon Home Hardware, in Chipstead Valley Road, thinks anything which might help the parking situation should be considered.
He said: "Anything is better than nothing. But if the council delayed the car park closure until after Christmas, that would be more helpful."
Fellow trader Hilary Dunn, from Woods Jewellers, was worried the parking closure would affect the town's Yulefest Christmas festival.
"I was hoping they would keep the short-term car park open at least so it doesn't hit people who want to shop in the town," she said. "There's a real shortage of parking anyway, so it's not ideal to lose even more.
Other ideas, such as relaxing parking restrictions in the town while work takes place on Lion Green road, or allowing traders to park in the community centre on Chipstead Valley Road, have also been mooted.
A council spokesman said it has identified temporary parking, with 26 more on-street bays being made available during the work.
He added: "We do appreciate traders' concerns about the car park being closed over the Christmas period and are working with the developer to try to keep part of it open until the end of December."
TfL said it was aware of the councillors' A23 request and "will be responding to them shortly".