Castlegate car park overspill in jeopardy

The long-term availability of Berwick's biggest car park has been thrown into doubt by Historic England.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 05 February, 2016, 06:24
Overspill section of the Castlegate car park

The organisation has objected to Northumberland County Council’s application to keep using the overflow area at the rear of the Castlegate car park.

Although the grass-crete area is on council land, Historic England, formerly English Heritage, is a consultee because of the proximity to the town’s Elizabethan walls.

Lee McFarlane, Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Historic England, has told the council that more information is needed on its plans to address the wider parking issue in Berwick before it will agree to another extension.

He said: “The site’s significance as a scheduled monument lies in the fact that Berwick is one of Western Europe’s most outstanding fortified towns which still visibly illustrates the dominant nature of medieval and post medieval military planning.

“The fact that the open space outside of the walls still remains so, particularly in the location of Castlegate Car Park, is an important aspect of the site’s significance allowing the visitor to experience both the Elizabethan ramparts and the earlier medieval fortifications together.

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“The proposal erodes this setting by continuing to permit vehicles to be parked within the ditch for an unspecified period of time without a visible exit strategy.

“Historic England considers that the proposal will impact on the significance of the Scheduled Monument through the negative impact upon its setting. Any public benefit, such as temporary car parking will need to consider the way in which this can be provided at this location with a specified time limit, and then in the long-term in alternative locations, less damaging to the historic environment.

“The remit of Historic England is to advise on the impact of the proposal upon the historic environment, and from this point of view we are unable to support the application without further information being submitted. We recommend that the applicant be asked to provide information on a clearly defined time limit for the car park; and, to provide an indication of how the results of the options appraisal carried out as part of Berwick’s “Future Regeneration Project” will be implemented.

A council spokesperson said: “The application is still under consideration. The council is actively looking to improve the provision of parking in Berwick. One of our long held ambitions is to increase parking at the railway station, and we are currently working up detailed proposals in partnership with the train operator Virgin Trains.”