Pedestrianisation scheme to tackle traffic misery planned in Northumberland coastal hotspot
A tourist hotspot on the Northumberland coast is set to be pedestrianised.
Plans are being drawn up for a 12-month trial scheme to reduce the volume of traffic in Craster.
The plan is being developed by Northumberland County Council with the backing of Craster Parish Council.
The aim is to have it in place by Easter with traffic approaching the village diverted into the main public car park via a chicane of cones.
Cllr Martin Smith, chairman, said: “Parking is a serious concern for local residents. Last year, as the country came out of a national lockdown, matters reached a tipping point for our community as the enormous influx of visitors and the levels of displaced and inconsiderate parking caused havoc for many in Craster.
"Whilst we welcome tourism as vitally important to our local economy and for sustaining employment, the parking situation in Craster simply cannot and must not be allowed to continue as is at present.”
However, concerns have been raised by Craster RNLI about traffic congestion delaying crew members responding to a ‘shout’.
Lifeboat chairman Michael Doherty said: “I can fairly well guarantee that there will be chaos with this scheme. I can only hope the consequences are not so bad as to effect the lifeboat or the emergency services.”
Cllr Smith felt they were valid concerns which had been passed on to the highways department for further assessment.
Rosie Robson, whose family run a kipper smokehouse, complained that the impact on local businesses had not been considered.
"I’m quite positive about the pedestrianisation of Craster,” she said. “It has been the answer to a lot of Cornwall’s problems but you have to take into account the people who live and work there on a daily basis and put them first.”
Cllr Smith said there would still be vehicular access, adding: "What we’re trying to stop is the people who are coming to visit the castle (Dunstanburgh) or Craster as a whole from coming in and parking.”
Cllr Mark Green added: “There are business establishments that have parking. We need some common sense that allows people to trade properly.”
The parish council had initially proposed a residents’ permit parking scheme, with 67% of respondents to a public consultation in favour.
However, the county council had concerns about the impact on local businesses and residents not being able to park outside their homes.
Cllr Smith said: “It is undoubtedly very disappointing that Northumberland County Council feels this particular scheme would not be appropriate for Craster at this moment.
"Even if the scheme were to be introduced, it is unlikely to happen this year.
"Delaying or scrapping the pedestrian scheme and leaving the village without any measures at all to tackle the likely huge influx of parking problems, particularly over the high season, is simply not an option for us.”
Cllr Wendy Pattison, local county councillor, added: “We had a summer from hell and I think we’ve got another one ahead of us. We are trying really hard to make it easier.”
The parish council intends to review the scheme after Easter and is seeking local views. The county council will review it in June.
“We’ve received an assurance they will revisit the permits scheme if we feel this pedestrian scheme is not working as intended,” said Cllr Smith.