Motorhomes get green light for overnight stays at key locations on Northumberland coast

Councillors have taken a step to try and manage the increasing number of motorhomes visiting Northumberland.
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A pilot scheme allowing motorhome users to sleep overnight at three key coastal locations has been given the green light by Northumberland County Council’s planning committee.

The 12-month trial will allow self-sufficient motorhomes to park up at Bamburgh Links, Beadnell Bay and Amble Braid car parks.

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The move is a response to the growing popularity of motorhome visits since the Covid pandemic began and aims to resolve some of the problems associated with that such as illegal and inconsiderate parking.

Bamburgh's Links Road car park is one of three areas chosen for motorhome overnight stays.Bamburgh's Links Road car park is one of three areas chosen for motorhome overnight stays.
Bamburgh's Links Road car park is one of three areas chosen for motorhome overnight stays.

Jon Sharp, senior planning officer, said: “The pilot scheme is in response to increased numbers of motorhomes visiting the county. Currently people are only allowed to stay overnight on registered camping and caravan sites which often have minimum stay of more than one night and aren’t necessarily open in the low season.

"Anecdotally, this leads to tourists moving on to other areas such as Scotland instead of stopping to support local businesses.

"The applications also seek to manage the ad-hoc overnight parking of these vehicles in lay-bys by encouraging them to stay where the council can manage them appropriately.

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"It is considered this is a positive proposal to manage a growing part of the tourism sector within the county.”

The scheme will allow eight motorhomes to park overnight in the overflow car park at Beadnell Bay, with six each at Bamburgh’s Links Road car park and Amble Braid.

Spaces will have to be pre-booked online, with no option to pay on arrival, and tables, chairs, awnings and barbecues outside the vehicle will not be permitted.

Several objections were submitted by residents with concerns about litter and anti-social behaviour, although these were outnumbered by letters of support from the motorhome community.

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Cllr Richard Dodd, Ponteland North, said: “We’ve all seen the extra motorhomes in the last couple of years and we can’t ignore it. This is the future so let’s grasp it but make sure we do it right.”

However, Cllr Georgina Hill, Berwick East, expressed doubt about the council’s ability to enforce rules and regulations.

She said: “I’m a little concerned. I know we are getting more and more visitors and there’s not enough accommodation but I don’t know why we’re not more ambitious. I would much prefer to see proper facilities and areas for these rather than them being stuck in a car park.

"I don’t think the enforcement will be there and I can envisage conversations about them being there for 10 days.”

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Rob Murfin, the council’s director of planning, acknowledged there would be management issues.

He explained: “Tourism is changing in the county. During the lockdown period we have seen significantly increased levels of domestic based tourism.

"We are uncertain about this proposal, not because of the principle, but because of the practicalities of managing this.

"In the past we haven’t allowed overnight stays in our car parks so we are very purposefully looking at a 12-month pilot exercise both to determine the overall likely level of demand and take-up and then to look at lessons to be learned and any additional investment required to make these sites suitable for overnight stays.”

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