Diocese puts brakes on car-parking plan

The Dovecote Centre in Amble.
The Dovecote Centre in Amble.

Frustrated town councillors have spoken of their disappointment after a proposal to provide much-needed car parking in Amble has been knocked back.

Members were hoping to have the car park reopened at the disused Dovecote Centre, after the building closed last year.

The venue, on Dovecote Street, shut its doors in August after Northumberland County Council decided not to renew the lease – which ended in December – from the Diocese of Newcastle.

Now, the Diocese has informed the town council that it will not reopen the car park because of insurance issues, adding that it plans to put the site up for sale. An email from the Diocese, which was read out at last Thursday’s Amble Town Council meeting, stated: ‘Following information received from our insurers our members have taken the decision not to allow the car park to be reopened because this would increase the liability cost.

‘Within the next 10 days, a board will be up to advertise the property for rent or sale, after plans with an interested party fell through. The building is not being used by anyone at the moment.’

In response, Amble Mayor Jane Dargue said: “I am frustrated. We are in desperate need for car-parking space. We were looking at perhaps businesses using it because it is a good space; we have a disused car park and a parking problem and I hoped they would have seen that. It is disappointing.”

Coun Helen Lewis told members that she believes that the Diocese has missed the council’s point.

“We were saying to them that we might insure it, if they could reopen it,” she said.

Coun Tracey Hinton said that having a disused site ‘leaves it open to vandalism’.

Last year’s closure of the Dovecote Centre sparked concern and criticism from the community, with calls to try to save it.

However, critics were told that usage was low and the building needed ‘significant capital investment’.