Council votes against Braid village-green swap proposal

A map of the proposals. The village green is marked in green, while the proposed de-registered land is in red. The area which would become new village green is yellow.
A map of the proposals. The village green is marked in green, while the proposed de-registered land is in red. The area which would become new village green is yellow.

Amble Town Council has voted against a controversial village-green land-swap proposal at The Braid to make way for a temporary car park.

Northumberland County Council has lodged an application to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to de-register a strip of land at the recreation space as village green.

The area in question is open grassland in the centre of The Braid, adjacent to the access road to the Marina and public footpath to the town centre.

The aim is to allow car parking on that stretch ‘at times of peak demand’. In return, a nearby piece of land would be registered as village green.

The county council says that if the land-swap bid is successful, a full planning application and consultation would then be needed for the car park, which would include diverting the footpath and ensuring the layout, surface and capacity was appropriate.

The plan has split opinion, with the Open Spaces Society objecting and the Keep Our Village Green protest group being formed.

At Thursday’s town-council meeting, objectors reiterated their concerns, describing the scheme as unsympathetic, damaging and dangerous.

Following this, councillors shared their opinions, with four voting against the proposal and three in favour.

Coun Helen Lewis said: “As this stands, I am opposed to it and I don’t agree with it. I am not happy with the exchange part and I am not happy about how it would be enforced.”

Coun Craig Weir said he was in favour of it being used as a temporary car park, but added that if there was a bid to make it a permanent arrangement, he would ‘man the barricades as that would be wrong’.

Coun Jeff Watson felt people needed to see a formal plan for the car park.

He said: “We have discussed parking for donkey’s years and it has been clear that, to do something on this area of village green would be a last resort.

“We need to find out if it is an option or not. The pavement would be diverted to keep pedestrians and cyclists away from cars and we would have to rely on the county council to look after the car park.

“We haven’t got a plan at the moment. I don’t think we should say that we don’t want to have any parking in this area. It needs to be investigated and see if there’s a plan that works.”