Divisive bid for car park on village green withdrawn

A map of the propsals which have now been dropped - village green (green); proposed deregistered land (red); land to become village green (yellow).
A map of the propsals which have now been dropped - village green (green); proposed deregistered land (red); land to become village green (yellow).

Northumberland County Council will not be going ahead with plans to use part of The Braid in Amble as peak-time, overflow car parking.

While the local authority was keen to find a solution to ongoing parking issues in the town, a number of objectors voiced their concerns at using this location and the council will now look at alternatives ‘as and when opportunities arise’.

As previously reported by the Gazette, the council had applied to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to deregister as village green a section of land at the popular recreation space, adjacent to the Marina access road and public footpath to the town centre.

In return, an adjacent piece of land, north of The Gut, would have been registered as a village green.

However, the proposal proved controversial, with the Open Spaces Society objecting and the Keep Our Village Green protest group being formed, while Amble Town Council voted against the land swap last month.

Having listened to these views, the county council will now be advising the Government that it will not progress the plans.

Coun Glen Sanderson, the county council’s cabinet member for local services, said: “We know parking, particularly at peak times, is an issue in Amble and we were keen to help find a viable solution.

“And while we were very much a partner in this scheme, I’m sorry we haven’t been able to provide the residents of Amble with a much-needed parking solution at this time. We will continue to look at options as and when any opportunities arise.”

The Open Spaces Society had originally helped local people to register the land as a village green in 2009, in the face of proposals for a supermarket on the adjoining land.

This week, it heralded the news, with general secretary Kate Ashbrook saying: “This is tremendous news.

“We knew this was a case we had to fight. Having helped local people to rescue their wonderful green once, we could not stand by and see it smothered by a car park.

“We are truly delighted that this splendid green is safe for local people and visitors to enjoy.”

However, speaking to the Gazette, Coun Sanderson added: “It’s not a victory or defeat, we are just trying our best. You are never going to please everyone, but this was the only option on the table at this time.

“The fact I felt it was necessary to withdraw is disappointing, especially when council officers had got indications this proposal would be acceptable to local people, which is why we went ahead.

“It’s not the end of the story and we will continue to try to help find a solution to what is a really serious problem in Amble. The county council’s role in all of this has been to try to help, because we know local people, businesses and visitors urgently need more car-parking space.

“There’s been very little in terms of tangible results or actions on this in recent years; it was my intention to inject some pace to try to resolve it.”