Plans to create a new coach parking facility in Berwick town centre are being met with fierce opposition from local residents.
The proposals for Chapel Street are expected to go before Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee this spring.
It is planned to convert the existing car park and buy the neighbouring former Swans bus yard to create sufficient space for four coaches.
But residents say it will affect their quality of life and reduce the value of their homes.
Gill Hanham of Parade School Mews said: “Turning part of the town centre into an unpleasant, noisy, fume-laden area will do nothing to attract or retain visitors.
“Tourists will gain a much better impression of Berwick if dropped close to toilets, cafes and other businesses, in an open area where they can appreciate what Berwick has to offer than in a tiny residential side road.
“A residential area is not a suitable place to drop off a large number of visitors - not least the lack of basic facilities such as toilets.”
Eric Goodyer of Palace Street maintains that The Parade is the best area for coaches but, aware of conservation issues, suggests the Co-op car park is the best alternative.
“It would provide visitors with a far superior first time aspect of Berwick,” he said. “This land is also owned by English Heritage who are likely to be supportive of any proposal to increase tourist numbers.”
Bruce Reed, of Parade School Mews, is among those to have raised concerns about the potential health hazard of diesel fumes.
“We oppose the proposed coach park which will result in the localised build up of microscopic diesel pollutants,” he said. “The tiny particles - which are emitted at high levels during engine start up, and during continuous engine running - build up and persist in the local environment.”
Others fear they will be overlooked by double decker buses and have raised safety concerns about large vehicles using a narrow street.
But council conservation officer, Annette Reeves, has raised no objections on conservation grounds.
There have long been calls for better coach parking facilities in Berwick. It is believed there would be high demand from coach operators if a suitable town centre location was found, pointing to the nearby examples of Seahouses and Alnwick as good examples.
At the moment there is a drop-off on Walkergate but many coach drivers instead stop on the outskirts of the town or bypass it altogether.
Mayor Isabel Hunter, speaking at the town council’s annual meeting, said: “We don’t want to upset residents but we want coach visitors to this town and need to find a solution.
“There have been various options proposed over many years now which for one reason or another have never come to fruition. When we looked at the Castlegate car park, we got a local coach company to manoeuvre one of their vehicles there and we decided it was not suitable.
“We also have to take into account that we received permission from English Heritage for an extension of the car park there. If we turn around and put coach parking there they might say we don’t need the space for extra parking.
“This planning application came to us in March which gives the coach operators what they’ve been looking for - a town centre site. If local residents don’t want it there, they have to put their views forward and have their say when it comes to the north area committee.”