Call for coach parking site to be reconsidered

Berwick Town Council will '˜keep knocking at the door' in its efforts to get coach parking issues discussed again.

Friday, 26th August 2016, 07:38 am
Coach parked on Walkergate.

Plans to turn the Chapel Street car park into a four-bay coach park are still being worked on by Northumberland County Council.

However, there is strong opposition to the plan from local residents who have appealed for support from Berwick Town Council in their efforts to get the scheme reconsidered.

Sue Duerdoth, who lives near the proposed site, said: “It seems to me that even if the coach park is built, Berwick will still need a coach park.

“Our problem, according to tourism experts, is that we need to attract the larger touring coaches that zoom past on the A1 but could be stopping and bringing their wealthy passengers into Berwick to spend their money in the shops.

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“But Chapel Street is tiny; it’s four spaces and will suit four coaches if they play nicely. There’s hardly any space to manoeuvre in.

“We know the big touring coaches, particularly those drivers unfamiliar with Berwick, don’t see Chapel Street as a viable option to turn into. The few that try tend to sail straight down Church Street and end up in a horrible mess on Marygate and have to reverse their way out.”

She also raised concerns about the impact of heavy coaches on old properties, many built without foundations.

Mrs Duerdoth also criticised the lack of facilities for passengers and drivers at both the Chapel Street site and Church Street drop-off.

She believes that coaches would increase traffic congestion within the walls, most notably at the Walkergate mini-roundabout.

The loss of parking spaces would also increase problems in the town centre, she felt.

She questioned: “How long will it be before car drivers get sick of driving round and round the town centre looking for a space?”

She continued: “I think it’s a fantastic thing that the county council is prepared to invest in coach parking in Berwick but it’s clearly going to cost a lot more than was originally anticipated.

“I think the county council, having made that investment, would expect Berwick’s coach parking problem to be solved but I honestly don’t see how it can be with this coach park. They are going to need another one and where is the funding going to come from for that?

“There surely has to be an approach which looks at the means of arriving by rail, coach and car and how we can look to develop our tourist trade in a sustainable way.”

Teresa Newham, a Chapel Street resident, said that many coach drivers were turning around at Wallace Green rather than use the Church Street and Chapel Street route.

Mayor Ivor Dixon said: “We all agree it’s a bad plan but all we can do is keep knocking at the door.”

The county council had hoped to start work on the Chapel Street scheme earlier this year and have it finished for the peak summer season but that has not happened.

It has previously ruled out the possibility of other coach park options such as the Castlegate car park because of the significant loss of car parking spaces it would mean, while there were also safety concerns surrounding the movement of cars, coaches and pedestrians.

A council spokeswoman said the details of the scheme were still being finalised.