Bristol Airport has been given the green light to bring forward work to expand one of its car parks to provide thousands of parking spaces for travellers.
North Somerset Council approved an application by the airport to re-phase work which will see the Silver Zone car park extended and 3,650 new long stay spaces created.
The spaces will be used mainly between May and October – typically the busiest months at the growing travel hub.
In the initial planning permission for the airport expansion, granted in 2011, the council stipulated that work on the Silver Zone car park could not start until the first phase of a new five storey multi-storey car park on the north side of the site was completed.
But passenger demands prompted airport bosses to seek permission for the work to be rescheduled.
It is hoped that by bringing forward the expansion of the Silver Zone car park it will help limit the use of unauthorised car parks around the site.
The latest application does not seek to increase the number of spaces, but just to re-schedule the work planned for the site.
A spokesman for Bristol Airport said the changes in the scheduling of the work were led by passenger demand. Passenger numbers at the airport are expected to soar to 10 million every year over the next few years.
The spokesman said: “Passenger requirements have changed since the 2011 planning approval was granted.
“For example, charter flights have performed better than forecast and increased use of low cost parking by business travellers as companies seek to control their travel budgets has changed the mix of car parking currently required.
“As a result, demand for the low-cost parking offered in Silver Zone is currently greater than the forecast uptake for a multi-storey car park close to the terminal (which would need to be sold at a higher tariff in order to make the significant cost of construction commercially viable).
” Providing car parking at a competitive price on the airport site limits the impact of unauthorised off-site car parks on local communities and the environment.”
The proposed Silver Zone extension will see a 7.8 hectare area of land located immediately to the west of the existing Silver Zone car park on the south side of the airport site developed for car parking.
The number of people travelling to the airport by public transport is also continuing to grow – and is expected to reach 15 per cent this year.
As a result it is also proposed to bring forward the launch of an hourly ‘Weston Flyer’ bus service.