Opinion split on Berwick quayside parking
A proposed parking scheme on Berwick quayside is to be called in for further discussion.
Northumberland County Council wants to extend the existing car park onto an area of disused rough grass, creating 36 more long-stay parking spaces.However, the proposal has split Berwick Town Council’s planning committee.Coun Karin Graham said: “I am dead against it. It’s one of the most beautiful spots on our riverside. The visual impact to that particular area will have an adverse effect to tourism in many ways.“Tourists gather there to watch the traditional fishing methods of catching salmon from Gardo Fishery. Boat trips are very popular too and local art and photography groups use that area to follow their hobbies painting and photographing the estuary, boats, historic buildings and obviously the walls.“The potential for cruise ships coming to the dock in about 18 months will be impacted. The visiting quests I’m certain would prefer to see that beautiful heritage area and not 35 glinting cars! “As part of Berwick’s Neighbourhood Plan Group which I’ve worked on for over 4 years we have drafted our plan to avoid any further additional centre of town car parks.“That decision was made after much consultation and research into the impact of the town both in terms of visitors, heritage and culture not to mention the potential bottle neck this car park would cause at Sandgate; one of the four ancient walled ports into the town.“We are currently aware that a Castlegate car park extension will be online within weeks. That extension is going to greatly alleviate the need for car parking spots as it is increasing its size a great deal.“Thirty five extra spots so close to our walls at The Chandlery isn’t going to be anything other than an eyesore and cause traffic backing up. “Furthermore we have looked into sustainable transport plan and have voiced an opinion on numerous occasions about a park and ride using the Berwick Academy car park; as a place to provide car parking and shuttle buses.“Let’s not jump to decide on this extra town centre car park without taking due diligence to scope out park and ride first.”However, Coun Robert Bruce said: “I am all for it. We have got a big hotel development on the way in that end of the town which will create more cars. I don’t see what impact it will have on boat trips. “We need car parking in the town if it’s going to grow.”Coun Alan Bowlas added: “I have no real objections. I think it will increase footfall to the advantage of many businesses there. I think it will be good for Berwick.”Chairman, Coun Gregah Roughead, reminded members that they were not the local planning authority and that a final decision would be taken by Northumberland County Council.Coun Catherine Seymour, member for Berwick North, offered to ‘call in’ the application for further discussion by committee and this was agreed.In 2017, a council commissioned parking study of Berwick town centre recommended that 50 more parking spaces were needed as soon as possible, with 185 needed by 2020 and 260 by 2030.A report with the planning application states: ‘A number of potential sites were identified and assessed to determine their availability and suitability for additional parking. As part of this process, the county council engaged with elected town and county councillors and other stakeholders in the town to establish their views.‘These groups confirmed a strong view that there is a shortage of long-stay parking provision in Berwick. This shortage has been exacerbated by the conversion of The Parade car park to short stay – itself a recommendation of the parking study.‘Some additional long-stay parking is to be provided in Tweedmouth but this will still leave an overall shortfall.‘An opportunity has arisen to purchase the grass land adjacent to the car park, which will enable the construction of the extension.’The existing parking areas are unaffected apart from some re-lining. The parking area to the east is retained by a wall which will screen the proposed extension.‘Given the above, it is not considered that the proposed development will have a negative impact on the setting of the Quay Walls or the wider area,’ states the report.