ST AUSTELL shoppers are celebrating after parking charges at White River Place's 550-space car park were slashed following a £75,000 investment.
The centre's new owners, Ellandi, announced on Monday that they had taken over direct control of the car park from its previous operators.
The two-hour parking charge is being halved from £2.40 to £1.20 and a new evening rate means shoppers can park all evening after 4pm for £1 – saving £5 on previous rates.
Opening hours are also being extended to 11.30pm (from 11pm), Monday to Saturday.
Ellandi, who took over the centre in June, said they took the decision to support WRP retailers, attract new ones and drive up town centre footfall.
Mark Robinson, from Ellandi, said: "We bought WRP because we believe in the potential of St Austell and we have been clear that we are prepared to invest significantly to deliver our ambitions for WRP.
"This initiative is likely to cost more than £75,000 in the first year alone, but we are happy to make this investment to kick-start St Austell's renaissance. Our experience is that parking can be pivotal to the success of a shopping centre."
"This is excellent news for St Austell," said Tom French, St Austell Bay Chamber of Commerce chairman.
"Concerns about car parking charges have regularly appeared as the number one issue among people asked about town.
"These new rates at WRP will encourage shoppers to visit and stay longer in town which must be good for businesses."
Mark Williams, of WTW Cinemas, said he was particularly pleased with the new evening rates which will benefit cinemagoers and the night-time economy.
St Austell mayor John Keast said: "I'm really pleased Ellandi have taken this initiative as in the current economic climate car parking charges are a real deterrent for many shoppers.
"The WRP car park is an excellent modern facility, close to the town centre which has been under utilised for too long."
The parking announcement comes shortly after Ellandi announced it secured The Cloud, owned by BskyB, to provide free, high-speed, public wi-fi at WRP.
They have also endorsed a loyalty card scheme being developed for St Austell.