Plans for coach park draw mixed reaction
Plans to remove Berwick's purpose-built coach park and convert it back into a car park have received a mixed response.
Northumberland County Council’s change of use application for the Chapel Street facility has been met with numerous letters of support and objection.
A long-stay coach parking facility is being built at the Swan Centre in Tweedmouth, with a short-stay coach parking facility on Walkergate to allow parking for up to two hours
However, Andrew McGuinness, of The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, warns that the removal of the facility will significantly hinder efforts to encourage coach tourism.
He states: ‘We recognise the facility has been underused since its opening and we feel this is partly due to Berwick town centre being bypassed by the frequent number of coaches using the A1 between Scotland and Northumberland who choose to stop at either the garden centre, or Morrisons.
‘Whilst coaches may use these locations for convenience, Berwick town centre does not make sufficient advantage of this passing opportunity, this is evidenced by even regional coach operators not being fully aware of the wider tourism and visiting proposition in the town.
‘The lack of a coach facility in the town centre would significantly hinder efforts to encourage an increase in coach tourism. Main coach parking at the Swan Leisure Centre would make short stay visits to Berwick for coaches less viable.’
Berwick Town Council has also signalled its opposition to the plans until a long-term plan is put in place.
Berwick Chamber of Trade secretary Stephen Scott states: ‘Coach tourism is a growing market driven by the international tourist wishing to explore towns with a unique location, a fascinating history and beautiful natural environment. Berwick has so much to offer this market.
‘The opening of the Chapel Street coach park was a start. We acknowledge that it was not the preferred location by many but given the local council taxpayers’ money used to develop the facility, the whole local community has a vested interest to make it succeed. It is far too early to conclude it as a failure.’
Local residents, however, appear to be generally supportive of the proposal.
Gill Hanham, of Parade School Mews, states: ‘The creation of the coach park has been a disgraceful waste of ratepayers’ money, and extremely disruptive for residents in the immediate vicinity.’
Steven Flook, who runs a guest house on nearby Church Street, also hoped it would go some way to alleviating parking problems in the area.