More than 2,000 residents have called for a notorious viewpoint car park to be open longer, despite it having a history of vandals setting off fires and blaring loud music late at night.

The Harrow Viewpoint car park in Old Redding is a popular haunt for people in London and Hertfordshire looking to enjoy a scening pit stop.

A petition was presented to Harrow Council this month urging it to extend its opening hours after being closed for an on-off basis since 2019 and now operating in a limited window.

But the council said it must take an “evidence-based approach” to dealing with the site due to longstanding anti-social behaviour in the area.

Read more: 

Harrow Weald councillor Stephen Greek said: “The area has always had a reputation for certain low-level activity, but this went far beyond that. The police were frequently involved, it was ruining the lives of local residents, it was wrecking the car park itself and it made the area unsafe at night.”

He said this included “drugs, violence, loud music, patio tables set on fire, fencing destroyed and canisters left everywhere”.

Watford Observer: Harrow viewpoint. Credit: Adam Shaw / LDRHarrow viewpoint. Credit: Adam Shaw / LDR

The car park was closed on and off over the past few years due to these problems and to allow it to be refurbished.

Harrow Council then took the decision to curb its opening hours, which means its gates are now closed at 7pm in the summer months and 4pm in winter. This proved a contentious decision, with many people suggesting it would impact on walkers ability to enjoy the surrounding park and would harm local businesses that rely on people using the parking spaces.

One of these businesses, The Case is Altered pub, was “forced” to close its doors earlier this year as custom dried up due to a lack of parking options during the evening.

Watford Observer: The Case is Altered pubThe Case is Altered pub

The petition was brought by Geoff Eldridge, who stood as an independent candidate in this year’s local elections, and called for the car park to be open until 11.30pm or the nearby double yellow lines to be removed. 

It read: “The actions of Harrow Council have not considered the needs of Harrow’s residents and are discriminatory, unreasonable and show a complete disregard for small businesses.” 

The leader of Harrow Council, Cllr Paul Osborn, did not rule out the possibility of extending the opening hours in future but said it was important to protect the area from vandalism. 

Watford Observer: The Old Redding car park. Credit: Adam Shaw / LDRThe Old Redding car park. Credit: Adam Shaw / LDR

He suggested greater use of CCTV cameras at the car park so the council can see when certain problems are taking place and act accordingly. 

Cllr Osborn said: “This will give us a genuine view of what’s going on that’s not subjective but objective and very clear. On the basis of that evidence we can then decide what to do going forward. 

“I’m keen for this to be open longer if we can, I think it’s an amazing view that should be enjoyed by as many residents as possible, but I also think we need to make sure local residents aren’t affected by anti-social behaviour.”