A £1million programme of improvements in country parks in Northumberland has been signed off – to be funded by the reintroduction of parking charges.
Druridge Bay Country Park is set to get the lion’s share of the total investment – £567,000 of the £997,000, with £180,000 for Bolam Lake Country Park, Morpeth, and £100,000 for Plessey Woods, Bedlington.
There is also £150,000 earmarked for other sites including Tyne Riverside and Tyne Green country parks.
As previously reported, at Druridge Bay, the county council is proposing to replace the old play equipment with a high-quality installation, extend and improve the café and outdoor seating area and introduce a new facility, in keeping with the park, to meet the rising demand for camping and touring caravan facilities along this section of the coast.
A report to Tuesday’s meeting of the decision-making cabinet explained that ‘the borrowing costs associated with this investment would be around £69,500 per annum and it is proposed that parking charges are re-introduced at Druridge Bay, Plessey Woods and Bolam Lake to cover the additional cost’.
Up until April 2015, the council levied a parking fee at these three sites. In the final year of charging, the council raised approximately £115,000 at the three parks.
Prior to the removal, there had been no increase in the parking charge since 2009 when the charge went up to £1.40 for up to two hours and £2.80 for the whole day.
The charges for 2018/19, also signed off on Tuesday, would include free parking for up to one hour. All-day parking would cost £3, while up to two hours would be £1.60.
Season permits valid in all three parks would be £35, while the charges would be £6 for minibuses/horse boxes and £10 for coaches.
The report to councillors adds: ‘The forecast income from the reintroduction of charges is £120,000 per annum, which would cover the costs associated with the proposed capital investment as well as provide recurrent revenue savings of around £50,000 per annum’.
The proposals still need to go before the full council for final approval.