Plans for a coach park in Berwick have taken a step forward after the town council raised no objections to a change of use application for land at Chapel Street.
Berwick Town Council’s planning committee heard a varied public response to the plans, before discussing the application at its meeting on Monday.
Palace Street resident Eric Goodyer said that the proposed location at Chapel Street was not appropriate.
He told councillors: “We need to bring people into town to spend money but we’re going to dump them in Chapel Street? It’s wrong. I propose we put them somewhere nice.”
Another resident questioned whether coach parking was needed in the centre, but The Holiday Rock Shop owner John Gardiner, who has been a retailer in Berwick for 26 years, said: “Drivers do not like being on the outskirts. If they can’t park in town they will take their bus - and their passengers - somewhere else.”
John Haswell, chair of Berwick Chamber of Trade, added: “The town has asked for a coach park for years and nothing has happened. Seahouses gets between 10 and 12 coaches a day in July to September. We are the only market town in Northumberland that can’t take coaches.”
The planning committee voted four to one not to object to the change of use application, which will go before Northumberland County Council in the coming weeks.
Town Councillor Alan Turnbull said: “I would like to reiterate that we are judging this on its merits in planning law. Councillors may feel there are better places in the town to have a coach park but we can’t consider other sites, we have to judge the planning application we have before us.”
Coun Alex Gibson said the length of time Berwick had gone without a coach park was “abysmal”. “We are trying to get trade into this town and I do not like people being so negative about it,” he said.
Coun Catherine Seymour raised concerns about the effect coach parking in Chapel Street would have on nearby listed buildings as well as the environmental impact. She also questioned if there was room to turn into the site. “I know it is important to have coaches but I’m not sure this is the right place,” she said.
But Coun Phil Elliot said the application was for change of use, not a planning application for a coach park. “This might be our only chance to stop this being shelved again,” he said.