Image demonstrating Council continues parking improvements in Alnwick area

Council continues parking improvements in Alnwick area

Hundreds of new parking spaces are being created across Northumberland as the council continues its multi-million pound traffic improvements.

The county council has allocated £10m to fund parking improvements throughout Northumberland, producing detailed parking studies and action plans for our market towns in conjunction with town and parish councils.

The improvement programme is well underway, expanding and refurbishing existing car parks and creating new ones in many towns and villages.

In Alnwick, conversion of short stay bays on Bondgate Within from 2 hours to 30 mins to increase turnover has been implemented, while in Pottergate extra on-street parking is being provided by changes to existing double yellow line scheme.

A total of 72 spaces at Greenwell Road “A” have changed from from long stay to short stay while at Greenwell Road “D”the conversion of 4 hour stay bays to 3 hours has increased turnover.

A usage survey of car park “A” is currently being arranged to help establish the impact of the changes on people employed in the town centre and the availability of long stay places.
A park and ride study for the town is also due to take place later this year.

A study is underway to review the pros and cons and car park usage in winter/summer, to establish whether seasonal time limits in Alnwick town centre would be appropriate. This will include reviewing arrangements in Whitby and Cumbria where there are established arrangements for use of seasonal time limits over peak tourism periods.

Discussions are also ongoing with the Alnwick Forum over potential new car park sites at the old Duchess High School site, St Michael’s school field and other possible locations.

In Seahouses, works to improve the extension area at Station Yard carpark are due to start next week.

In Craster, pending a successful  planning application, a scheme to deliver an extra 48 spaces at the carpark could be completed by February 2019.

At Alnmouth Railway Station, maximum 72 hour stay restrictions are already in place. A scheme to reintroduce on-street parking restrictions in Hipsburn and parking charges at the station has been agreed and programmed for implementation by December 2018.

And in Amble, the council is pursuing a number of options to secure additional parking capacity, but for reasons of commercial confidentiality it would not be appropriate at this time to highlight the work taking place behind the scenes.

To help fund these raft of improvements consultation is set  to take place on proposals to reintroduce charges at a number of non town centre council-owned car parks.

The move would bring the council in line with parking charges at other tourism destinations and railway car parks in the region and save the authority over £400,000 a year, as it looks to address the need to make £27 million in revenue savings over the next three years.

It is proposed that charges are increased at six out of the seven car parks where charging is already in place.

Plans are also being put forward to introduce parking charges at seven coastal tourist car parks, four railway station car parks and at Tyne Riverside Country Park. Many of these car parks would see charges of just £3 a day being introduced.

Consultation will also be carried out on proposals to increase the cost of an annual parking pass from £130 year to £225 (or just over 60 pence a day). These passes are often used by commuters and the new rate would still represent good value for money compared to a daily parking rate of £3  - which would equate to almost £700.

The recently introduced country parks annual pass, which costs £35, will currently be unaffected by these proposals.

By keeping the first hour free at the more urban coastal car parks, it would also ensure that local residents who regularly visit the sites for short walks would not be significantly affected by the proposals.

If the consultation is approved by Cabinet, detailed proposals will be put forward to residents, stakeholders and key partners in the coming weeks.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet member for Environment and Local Services, said: “We know parking is an issue about which many people feel strongly and that’s why we’ve invested so much in improvements.

“There’s an urgent need to provide more spaces in our county and we’ve worked closely with our Parish and Town Council colleagues to increase capacity in our towns and villages and there is still a lot more to come.

“However there are absolutely no plans to introduce parking charges in existing town centre car parks.

“Maintaining and improving our everyday frontline services is of the greatest importance to us. At the same time we need to service our debt and, more importantly, we need to continue to generate investment income to allow us to safeguard and improve these front line services.”

If ultimately agreed, the new charges would be introduced by summer 2019.
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