Concerns have been raised about a land-swap proposal at Amble Braid, to de-register part of it as a village green to make way for a temporary car park.
Northumberland County Council has applied to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to remove the special status from a section of land at the popular recreation space.
The purpose is to enable car parking on that stretch of The Braid ‘at times of peak demand’, to help alleviate some of the town’s chronic parking problems.
The land 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.
In return, and as part of the proposal, another piece of land – open grassland at the south side of The Braid, adjacent to the area currently designated as village green – would be registered as a village green.
However, the plan has sparked objection, with critics saying it will split The Braid in two, cause traffic issues for those who enjoy the area and have a detrimental impact on wildlife.
At last Thursday’s Amble Town Council, former councillor Terence Barton spoke against the plans and said that a protest group was being formed.
He said: “Any proposed site for a car park on The Braid, even on a restricted-use basis, would split The Braid in two making both parts carbon monoxide-polluted accident blackspots.
“More car parking means more litter. This litter will just blow across The Braid making it an absolute eyesore.
“My opinion is that the vast majority of Amble residents would strongly object to any parking proposals on The Braid which would deny them the safe leisure activities they presently enjoy.”
He feared that approval of the scheme would set a precedent and eventually, the whole of The Braid would be turned into a car park.
He added that the Open Spaces Society ‘actively discourages any parking on green belt land’.
At the same meeting, a number of town councillors said they were against the proposal in its current form.
Coun Helen Lewis said: “In principle, I am not against a land-swap proposal to serve the needs of the community, but I am against this particular land-swap plan – it goes either side of a public right of way. As it stands, I am against it.”
Amble Mayor Jane Dargue added: “I agree, we can’t go with this.”
But Amble’s Deputy Mayor Craig Weir said he was in favour, adding: “If we don’t go for it, what is the alternative?”
After discussions, the town council said that it wanted more information before it made a formal submission.
In the application to the Secretary of State, the county council says that there is a need to increase car-parking provision in the town and the proposed car park would be a temporary one used at times of high demand, such as summer holidays, festivals and events.
It adds that the area chosen for de-registration is adjacent to the existing access road and footpath to allow for convenient access.
The Authority states that the area has been successfully used for temporary car parking for the annual Puffin Festival for several years and this proposed exchange would facilitate further temporary use during peak periods.
The county council says that many other sites in the town have been investigated.
It adds that other areas of The Braid were looked at, but for numerous reasons, the land proposed is considered to be the most appropriate location for car parking.
Anyone wanting to comment on the plans can email email@example.com before November 16.