Good news for Wooler after council agrees to spend £220,000 on facilities and parking spaces

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Nearly a quarter of a million pounds is to be spent on making Wooler a more appealing destination for visitors.

The town is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination, acting as a gateway to the Northumberland National Park.

It is also attracting people on their way to Wooler Common, College Valley and Ingram Valley in the eastern Cheviots, as they are all within easy reach.

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The opening of the Ad Gefrin whisky distillery and visitor centre in February next year is also expected to attract national and international attention, and lead to a tourism boost.

£220,000 is to be spent on improving Wooler town centre.£220,000 is to be spent on improving Wooler town centre.
£220,000 is to be spent on improving Wooler town centre.

A range of improvements have been given the go-ahead by Northumberland County Council, including the refurbishment of public toilets at the bus station which are set to get much-needed baby changing facilities.

A temporary long stay car park will also be created at the site of the former Wooler First School which will act as an overflow car park for the town centre at peak times, including during the busy summer months.

The new car park will be open for at least a year, depending on how popular it is.

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And once it is open, the current arrangements at the Padgepool car park will be reconsidered. It is thought this facility may change to be a three or four-hour maximum stay car park, to help increase turnover of parking spaces in the town centre.

The Ad Gefrin site in Wooler.The Ad Gefrin site in Wooler.
The Ad Gefrin site in Wooler.

The North East Ambulance Service will also be relocated to the fire station site, which will free up some parking spaces and consolidate the emergency services in the town into a shared location.

John Riddle, Northumberland county councillor with responsibility for local services, said: “We're seeing a steady rise in visitor numbers to this beautiful town and with the opening of the Ad Gefrin visitor centre next year, that number is set to increase.

“In order to support local businesses and jobs, we want visitors to spend time in the town, to enjoy themselves and to leave with a positive lasting impression, so that they will return. Having adequate car parking and clean and modern public conveniences is fundamental to the visitor experience.”

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Mark Mather, local ward councillor, said: “Tourism is really important to Wooler as it helps to protect and create jobs and boosts the local economy, which is never more important than in these uncertain financial times.

Cllr John Riddle.Cllr John Riddle.
Cllr John Riddle.

“For the sake of the local community, it is also very important that we can manage the growing number of tourists who visit the town by providing adequate parking for local residents and visitors.

“I am confident these new infrastructure plans have been well researched and will protect the beauty and unique character of the town, while meeting the needs of both local residents and visitors.”

A proposal to provide a country car park at the Ad Gefrin archaeological site is still being explored by Northumberland County Council and the National Park Authority.

This would be dependent on a detailed pre-application planning process and will be considered by councillors in due course.