Next steps for county parking plans
03 Jan 2018
Extra car parking is needed to cope with peak demands in a number of the county’s key towns, comprehensive car parking studies have confirmed.
The County Council commissioned consultants to undertake parking studies and survey work in the market towns of Berwick, Hexham, Morpeth and Alnwick, which has taken place over the summer and autumn to help develop options for future parking needs in these busy market towns.
Work is now being undertaken to seek the views and opinions of the local county councillors, town councils and other key stakeholders on the findings of the consultants’ studies and their suggested recommendations on a range of potential measures that could help address parking issues in their areas.
The study has found many of the issues identified are common to all of the towns, however there are also some key differences so the strategies for each one will need to be tailored to the local needs and circumstances.
Based on current levels of use and predicted growth in demand it has been estimated that the additional capacity needed within the next couple of years is 150 spaces in Alnwick, 145 in Hexham, 146 in Morpeth and 187 in Berwick. The forecast figure for Berwick assumes the current temporary overflow car park at Castlegate, which provides 141 spaces, isn’t available long term.
Longer-term demand forecasts are based on expected traffic growth using national models and consideration of local housing growth and other factors. These indicate that by 2031 additional capacity may be required for 247 spaces in Hexham, 587 in Morpeth and 261 in Berwick.
The report states that measures which could be considered are increasing off-street car park capacity, converting some long-stay parking to short-stay, promoting sustainable transport options and reviewing on-street car parking arrangements.
There are also a number of suggestions specific to each town that could be considered.
However, councillors have ruled out any county-wide reintroduction of parking charges.
Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet member for Environment and Local Services, said: “We are committed to finding a workable solution to the county’s parking issues which has the support of residents, businesses, shoppers and visitors.
“People are getting increasingly frustrated at not being able to find car parking spaces in these towns, so doing nothing is not a viable option.
"However, it is important we recognise that due to the historic nature of our towns, the availability of suitable development sites for extra car parking is limited and that there is no easy fix which will sort out the county’s parking issues.
“Now the reports are back our next steps are to discuss the findings with the local county councillors, town councils and other key stakeholders so that we can agree what actions are acceptable and should be taken forward to help meet the particular needs of each town. We also welcome comments from other Town & Parish Councils in the local area.
“The views of these stakeholders will be key in determining what we do in these towns.
“We want to be clear we are definitely ruling out any county-wide reintroduction of charges. However if individual communities are strongly in favour of some localised charges to support investment in car parking capacity and feel their areas would benefit from it we will be happy to talk to them about it.
"Whilst these studies focus on four of our main market towns we are aware that parking issues are a problem in many parts of the county and we are committed to working with all of our Town and Parish Councils and local communities to find workable solutions.
“Ultimately we want all our communities to prosper and have the right balance of sustainable parking and this is the next step in making that happen.”
To read the full reports go HERE