Coastal summit to be held to prepare for busy summer in Northumberland

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A summit is being held ahead of what is expected to be another busy summer on the Northumberland coast.

Northumberland County Council is working with business leaders, landowners, town and parish councils, the police and tourism groups to develop a countywide approach to cope with the high level of day trippers and holidaymakers.

Last year saw the council host the first Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) coastal summit.

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With Covid still dominant and staycations popular, the summit found that although there were many benefits, the influx of visitors placed some strain on the local infrastructure and created issues for communities, along with impacts on the natural environment and landscape along the coast.

Bamburgh is one of the most popular visitor destinations on the Northumberland coast.Bamburgh is one of the most popular visitor destinations on the Northumberland coast.
Bamburgh is one of the most popular visitor destinations on the Northumberland coast.

It led to an action plan being developed to try and balance the needs of visitors and local communities.

To consolidate the work and look ahead to summer 2022, another summit is being held from 6pm to 7.30pm on Wednesday, April 20, which will be available to watch later on

The summit will involve senior council officers, local county councillors, chairs of the 16 local councils within the AONB area, Amble and Berwick, as well as representatives from Northumbria Police, HM Coastguard and the AONB team.

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It will allow key stakeholders to hear the working being undertaken by the county council and other partners to help manage and mitigate the immediate and longer-term impacts associated with Northumberland’s increasing popularity as a visitor destination.

It will also allow those involved to share experiences and concerns from the past two years and help plan ahead for the future.

Last year’s summit led to a number of multi-agency activities, including teaming up with Visit Northumberland and other key partners to 'attract and disperse' visitors across the county to spread the pressures.

There was a push on the promotion of active travel and using public transport to reduce reliance on car journeys, while for those who did come by car the county council supported town and parish councils and local landowners to provide more temporary ‘overflow’ carparks for use in peak seasons.

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And just this month the council launched its pilot scheme to allow overnight motorhome parking in three designated areas of the county.

Council Leader Glen Sanderson explained: “Last year was a bumper year for tourism in the county and we are so grateful to everyone who came and local residents who made people feel so welcome.

“The positive feedback from last year we believe is down to in part these coastal summits which are working to shape and improve the delicate balance between growing visitor numbers and the needs of local communities in the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

“We live in such a large county and there are so many strands to this and that is why there is very much a focus on working with all our partners to make this another memorable summer for all the right reasons.”

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While the coastal summit is focused on the Northumberland Coast AONB area, officers will also be having separate discussions with the local county councillors and town councils in coastal settlements outside of the AONB area, such as Cresswell, Newbiggin, Cambois and Blyth to identify and address any issues these areas may also be experiencing with increased visitor numbers over the summer months.