Plan to remove coach park faces opposition
Berwick Chamber of Trade has voiced its opposition to the removal of the coach park on Chapel Street.
Northumberland County Council has submitted a formal change of use application to convert the facility into a 22-space car park.
A long-stay coach parking facility is now under construction at the Swan Centre in Tweedmouth, with a short-stay coach parking facility to be provided on Walkergate to allow parking for up to two hours.
However, Chamber of Trade chairman John Haswell believes it will deter coach companies from visiting the town with a knock-on impact for local businesses.
“The proposal to get coaches to park at the Swan Centre is a retrograde step and will deter coaches from stopping in Berwick,” he told members of Berwick Town Council’s planning committee.
“It will add 15 minutes on to their driving time and reduce the length of time they can stay in Berwick.
He continued: “The alternative to allow four coaches to park on Walkergate and drop off on Church Street is a reasonable compromise, as long as they can stay for more than two hours.
“Berwick has always operated under its weight with coach tourism. We should be ambitious in trying to turn this around.
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“Coach drivers’ associations state there are no technical issues with the coach park.
“Whatever solution is agreed, improved signage and promotion is required. The Chamber is happy to help with promoting it.”
Local resident John Gardiner added: “I would hope the county council will stick to its guns. They have spent a fortune and taxpayers’ money in generating a coach park the town badly needed and now they want to go back to something else?
“I would hope the town council will back the taxpayers on this.”
The coach park has only been operational since March but has never proved popular, with coaches regularly parking on Walkergate instead.
Parking problems in the town centre and the frustration of seeing the coach park empty for long periods kept the issue in the spotlight.
The council’s current proposal is a response to that. It says it will be monitored carefully once under way.