New car park is planned at Berwick train station
Plans to create more than 100 new parking spaces at Berwick railway station are being prepared.
Northumberland County Council is looking at the possibility of a 102-space car park on land bordering the northbound platform.
The site, which lies next to the remains of Berwick Castle and Coronation Park, has long been identified as a potential site for much-needed additional parking, albeit with significant access difficulties.
It is currently used by Network Rail as a maintenance depot but discussions have been held about its relocation. The local authority has also held talks with LNER.
A pre-application document outlining brief details of the proposal has been submitted by the authority.
It states: ‘The proposal aims to improve the aesthetics of the site in front of the castle walls (ancient monument), widen the access road to 5.5m and junction improvements to the highway/access; install stairs to the public footpath, signage, 102-space car parking facility and associated ticketing apparatus. Works will also necessitate the relocation of an electricity substation.’
The likely costs of such a development or where funding might be found are not mentioned.
Coun Catherine Seymour, member for Berwick North, said: “It is pleasing that the planning pre-app proposal has been submitted for the construction of 102-space railway customer car park, outside the walls of the town at the station. This is following the relocation of Network’s Rail maintenance depot.
“More parking at the station means that car spaces throughout the town will be freed up for others and encourage more to take train journeys rather than drive.
“This further expansion can surely help the case for more train services and better connectivity.
I would also like to see some longer stay provision that many have requested.
“The foresight by Network Rail, Northumberland County Council and others who have been active in the work involved to get to this stage in the process for more parking at the station are to be thanked for this excellent news.”
Currently, the station car park is often close to capacity by mid-morning, forcing rail passengers to park on surrounding streets which is causing problems for local residents.
It had been hoped the introduction of free parking elsewhere in the town centre in 2014 might ease the problem but that has not proved the case. Indeed, the fact parking charges are still in place at the station may have exacerbated the problem on nearby streets.
Meanwhile, an application seeking listed building consent to restore a heritage water fountain to provide free water for customers on Platform 1 has been submitted.
A water fountain on Platform 2 has already been restored and is being well used by customers.
Coun Seymour said: “It would be useful to follow this example of bringing back into use our heritage water fountains throughout the town i.e. Pier Road, New Road and the Victorian water fountain at entrance to our walled town.
“This is to encourage the use of reusable water bottles and would be of an environmental benefit, as too much of plastic waste ends up in our sea and on our beaches.”