Parking charges to fund park upgrades

Druridge Bay Country Park
Druridge Bay Country Park

Plans to improve Druridge Bay Country Park have been put forward – and it is proposed to fund the upgrade via car-parking charges.

Northumberland 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.

It is part of an almost £1million scheme to improve Druridge Bay as well as Plessey Woods Country Park, at Blyth, and Bolam Lake Country Park, near Morpeth.

In order to pay for this investment, it is proposed that parking charges will be reintroduced at the three sites, although the first hour would be free of charge. All-day parking would cost £3, while up to two hours would be £1.60. Season permits valid in all three parks would cost £35.

Council leader Peter Jackson said: “The fact that these country parks are valued by residents and visitors is evidenced by the great increase in the numbers of visitors over the last few years. The existing facilities have been suffering from neglect for a number of years and we want to turn that around.

“These country parks all have their own unique character and are fantastic places to visit, but it’s important they offer the very best experience to visitors.

“We’re proposing a major investment of almost £1million to carry out a range of work at the three sites to significantly enhance their appeal as great places to visit – so they become jewels in Northumberland’s crown.

“While the major improvements will take place at these three parks, a number of visitor access improvements will also be carried out at other country parks across the county, including upgrading paths and car parks.

“Our plans are all about our pride in our county and bringing our facilities up to a standard that will attract visitors and be fit for the future.”

Cabinet member for environment and local services, Coun Glen Sanderson, added: “The country parks are great places for people to come and enjoy our beautiful countryside, watch wildlife, take exercise and generally just have a good day out.

“We want to make the experience even better and will be talking to user groups to refine the details of the proposals so that we get the best possible outcomes from this significant investment.”

The plans will be considered by the council’s decision-making cabinet later this month.