Call made for three-year limit on car-park use
Historic England has revealed it has no objections to the short-term use of the Castlegate overflow car park in Berwick.
A planning application for its continued temporary use has been made by Northumberland County Council which requires the consent of Historic England because of the proximity of the Elizabethan walls.
The conservation body still has significiant concerns about the car park’s impact on the 16th century walls but admits these are reversible so has requested that permission be limited to three years.
Lee McFarlane, inspector of ancient monuments at Historic England, said: “Car parking in Berwick is a complicated and long-running issue which will not be resolved within this application. Therefore we would not object if you were minded to grant permission for another three years.
“We feel this would provide sufficient time to develop a plan for the long-term building on the AECOM report (last year’s parking study of Berwick town centre) and others, which is holistic in nature and adequately assesses the impact on the historic environment. This will be an important part of any justification for a future proposal because it will show a willingness to explore all aspects of the issue.”
Historic England’s view is that ‘the open space directly below the ramparts is critical to our appreciation of the defensive nature of the fortifications’.
Ms McFarlane adds: “The cumulative harm caused by both the existing and proposed car parking visually disrupts and detracts from the monument by filling in the purposefully designed open space with the clutter and activity of cars.”
Approval would give the county council time to investigate other alternative parking sites and to allow the effects of any changes made to parking and transport arrangements over the coming months to be monitored and assessed.
The overflow car park provides around 150 spaces.
The only physical change proposed to the overflow is the laying of timber poles on the ground to prevent vehicles parking near the town wall and to help delineate the parking bays. As is already the case, it is proposed to close to overflow section in the winter months.
“The light touch proposed mitigation measures in the application are welcomed,” states Ms McFarlane.