Constructive talks over use of car park
Northumberland County Council has held '˜constructive' talks with Historic England over the continued use of a Berwick car park.
Temporary planning consent for use of the Castlegate grassed overflow car park expires in late May.
Concerns have been raised by Berwick Town Council and others about potential parking problems if new consent is not secured.
A spokesman for the county council said: “We have had a very constructive meeting with Historic England to discuss the findings and recommendations made in the consultant’s car park study.
“We believe that it is essential to the local economy that the existing capacity at Castlegate overflow car park is maintained for a further period of time, whilst other alternative sites are investigated and to allow the effects of any changes made to parking and transport arrangements over the coming months to be monitored and assessed.
“We will therefore be submitting a planning application imminently to seek approval for the on-going temporary use of the existing overflow area at Castlegate car park.”
The overflow car park is currently closed for the winter but it is intended to re-open it by Easter, although this is to some extent weather dependent.
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The council is adopting a two-phase approach to its discussions with Historic England.
Paul Jones, director of local services, speaking at a recent Berwick Town Council meeting, said: “We are looking for a further temporary planning consent for at least two years to allow some additional time but also to have dialogue on our long-term view to see if they would be receptive to a more permanent solution if it was a high standard offer.
“While there are sites in and around the town, none of them are particularly great or easily deliverable. What’s there at the moment does work well and we are keen to continue with that but accept that to make it permanent we will have to invest money in it to make it a viable long-term solution.
“We are not looking to do anything physically on the ground with a temporary consent. If we were to extend that to develop it more permanently it would require Scheduled Ancient Monument consent and they (Historic England) are holding all the cards so that’s why it’s a two-phased approach. We know one has a greater chance of getting two years rather than a permanent permission straight off.”
David Laux, the council’s head of technical services, said the recent study showing evidence of the need for additional parking capacity in the town would give the council’s application greater weight.