Decision on coach park sparks anger

Work on a long-awaited coach park in Berwick town centre is set to begin '“ but the decision has infuriated residents and the local MP.

Thursday, 14th April 2016, 8:14 am
Neighbours of the proposed Chapel Street coach park have concerns about the development

Northumberland County Council wants to get the Chapel Street scheme finished in time for the peak summer season.

However, Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has accused the authority of showing ‘utter contempt’ for the views of local residents.

A survey conducted last year resulted in 88 per cent of respondents favouring the option of coach parking at Castlegate ahead of Chapel Street and The Parade.

The council insists it looked at the Castlegate car park but ruled it was not an appropriate option because of safety concerns and the significant loss of car parking spaces.

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Mrs Trevelyan said: “I am astonished and very disappointed with this outcome. I feel that Northumberland County Council has yet again brushed aside the views of the local community in Berwick.

“It is extraordinary that they say no alternative has been identified, as they agreed the three viable options for consultation. The county council has demonstrated utter contempt for local opinion; even I have been kept in the dark about this decision.”

The Chapel Street coach park. which already has planning permission, will provide four parking bays on the site of the existing car park. It will work in conjunction with the coach drop-off point in Church Street.

Coun Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services, said: “We appreciate the huge boost to tourism that coach operators can bring to areas like Berwick and we want to ensure there are good parking facilities near the centre of town.

“This hasn’t been a straightforward decision and we have looked carefully at other locations suggested to see if they would be better.

“This included examining the results of a local survey which favoured Castlegate car park, but it was simply not an appropriate option and our detailed enquiries established that Chapel Street provided the best location.

“We are now looking to get the work done as quickly as possible so the new coach park can be up and running for the peak summer season.”

Coun Gavin Jones, member for Berwick North, added: “After 20 years or more, it is great news for the town to move forward with a coach park solution.

“I am pleased that common sense has prevailed and that the threat of losing Castlegate car park has been removed and I look forward to seeing the Chapel Street coach park welcoming coaches into Berwick.

“I hope that for those who Chapel Street was not their first choice, that they can welcome the opportunity that a coach park will provide to tourism in Berwick.”

The council has written to property owners offering an inspection of their walls to determine if the coach park causes any damage.

But local resident Eric Goodyer said: “A bigger concern will be the damage to the frontages of the properties on the so called coach circulation route of Church Street and Chapel Street.”

He has also asked to see the feedback from Historic England to see what their response was to the council’s proposals for locating the coach park in Castlegate.

Mrs Trevelyan has also written to the chief executive of Historic England, expressing concerns that there was no ‘meaningful discussion’.