A NEW car park is set to open in Morpeth to ease pressure on long-stay spaces.
The temporary facility is being created at the former Davidsons’ car dealership site, off Goosehill.
Groundwork has already been completed, but it will not officially open until various legal and planning consents are agreed. However, it is expected to be up and running within days.
The car park is being provided by Northumberland County Council following complaints that there are not enough long-stay parking spaces in the town for workers.
The problem has increased with the loss of spaces in Low Stanners and Dark Lane during work to build a new supermarket, as well as the maximum length of stay in Newmarket being reduced from five hours to three following a recent council review.
It had been hoped that a new long-stay underground car park would be open at the supermarket site, but it is not expected to come into full operation until spring next year.
The temporary car park, which will provide around 100 spaces, will be in place until at least Christmas and can only be used by people who have bought the Northumberland Countywide Parking Permit.
Council Parking Manager Lynne Ryan said: “The new supermarket development has had a really big impact on how long-stay parking in particular has been able to be approached. It has been very difficult now we have lost the Low Stanners car park and we have had quite a few issues with Dark Lane. One of our biggest issues is that the undercroft car park is not ready.
“One of the things we have done is leave The Terrace as long-stay until the development is completed, but the changes to Newmarket East car park have caused problems for workers. That instigated the discussions about the Davidsons’ site and we are able to provide some additional temporary long-stay parking there.
“We desperately hope that we can open that car park this week, but there are a few little issues that we are trying to resolve. We are working our hardest to make that car park available.
“It will be open to Northumberland Countywide Parking Permit holders so we hope it will fill as quickly as possible in the morning and free up parking spaces in the rest of the town. Hopefully, that car park will be full before 9am and won’t be empty until 4.30pm onwards.”
The details were given at a meeting of Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade on Monday when county highways officials were invited to discuss a range of issues.
Traders were concerned that the car park will only be available until Christmas, but were told discussions are taking place about extending the time or finding other suitable sites until the permanent underground car park is open.
Some people are already using the car park, but have been told it at their own risk.
Highways Network Manager Dick Phillips said: “It is so tempting for everybody because they can see we have put material down and it is ready to go, apart from the lining, but until we have the say-so of the owners and planning we have to hold our horses. We are trying to get it open as soon as possible.”
Dransfield Properties said the new underground car park should be fully operational by early Spring next year and it is also looking at releasing some spaces for staff working in Morpeth before Christmas.