Parking fears raised on Northumberland coast as pre-Covid rules reinstated

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A return to pre-Covid planning rules has prompted fears of parking chaos in tourist hotspots on the Northumberland coast.

Temporary rules allowing overflow car parks to operate for 56 days instead of the usual 28 days helped coastal communities cope with the influx of holidaymakers last summer.

However, those rules have now ended and with the post-pandemic domestic tourism boom set to continue, there are concerns of congestion headaches in the coming months.

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Bamburgh Parish Council chairman Barbara Brook said: "We had dispensation last year to open the Glebe Field beside the church for 56 days and now that is going to be impossible because the directive is 28 days,” she told a coastal summit organised by Northumberland County Council.

Bamburgh's overflow car park last summer.Bamburgh's overflow car park last summer.
Bamburgh's overflow car park last summer.

"We asked for more yellow lines – and I can understand that more yellow lines are not wanted across Northumberland – but we’re now in a dilemma because over the Easter period we had huge car parking problems in the village.”

Local services director Paul Jones acknowledged that parking was a perennial problem but said the council was determined to minimise ‘urban clutter’ such as double yellow lines.

Council enforcement officers will step up patrols in coastal areas over the summer but Mr Jones was clear that the creation of more parking places is not the long-term solution.

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“We aren’t proposing any additional parking capacity within Bamburgh,” he said. “Creating more and more parking doesn’t actually address the problem of the number of people coming by car.

"We’re happy to have further dialogue to see what we can do to support you and the local landowner in terms of the use of seasonal overflow arrangements and what can and can't be done to stay on the right side of the law. You can look at temporary planning consents but obviously there’s a lead-in time to secure those.”

Elsewhere, it was revealed that a trial road configuration designed to keep vehicles out of Craster is now going to become a permanent scheme.

In Amble, the council is looking at alternative parking arrangements at the Braid while work continues on an expansion of the Turner Street car park.

Boulmer also has a new bus service provided by Travelsure.

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AONB manager Iain Robson revealed: “We’ve managed to secure, with our colleagues in public transport, an hourly daytime service for coastal buses and additional service to Boulmer so that will give us five buses a day in and out of Boulmer which is a vast improvement.”

A pilot scheme is allowing self-contained motorhomes to park overnight in Bamburgh, Beadnell and at Amble Braid, while a caravan and camping site at Druridge Bay Country Park has opened.

Cllr Brook reported that ‘an enormous amount more litter’ had been noticed since its introduction in Bamburgh’s main car park and called for more bin provision.

The council says it is increasing the frequency of litter bin servicing during the summer period across the coastal area in particular and providing additional temporary litter bins to increase capacity at peak periods.

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Cllr Jeff Watson said he was pleased to hear that an early morning enforcement officer had given fixed penalty notices to overnight campers parked at the Warkworth beach car park.

Neil Carney of Northumberland Tourism forecast high demand for holidays and day trips but noted there appeared to be some trepidation around cost of living.

Mr Jones explained that a multi-agency approach which has worked successfully over the past two years would be in place again.

He said: “We do hope to work collectively, ideally to prevent problems occurring in the first place but to be flexible and responsive to be able to tackle things as they arise as well.”

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Cllr Watson added: “We are trying to get on top of it. We are actually victims of our own success in some ways but when you consider how much money this council and this county gets from tourism it's something we’ve got to live with and manage the best we can.”