Green light for a new car park in town centre

A new 142-bay car park has been approved for Morpeth town centre.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 6:02 pm

As previously reported, the former Goosehill First School site has been earmarked for parking provision by Northumberland County Council since it became vacant.

The town centre location became available after the long-awaited new £6million first school near County Hall at Loansdean opened in September 2019 to replace the 108-year-old Goosehill buildings and funding for the project was given the green light last month.

And the site was formally approved to become a new car park – which will contain 128 standard parking bays, eight disabled bays and six electric vehicle charging spaces – at a recent meeting of the local authority’s Castle Morpeth Local Area Council.

Planning officer Richard Laughton cited a parking study conducted by the county council, which found that parking was a major issue, and said the brownfield site would help alleviate this.

He told members the car park should go ahead as the plan’s transport assessment anticipated no significant problems regarding traffic and that the planting of trees and shrubs on the outskirts would “not harm the character” of central Morpeth.

However, there was some opposition to the plans. Some objections were based on the traffic assessment only taking place on one day, February 27, 2020, between 7am and 10am and from 3pm to 7pm.

Environmental concerns were also raised, with fears the construction of the car park would result in increased productions of “toxic emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particular matter”.

Coun Richard Dodd raised concerns that the car park could potentially worsen what he claimed was Morpeth’s reputation as “the boy racer capital of the county”.

However, Coun John Benyon, who represents Stobhill, said the car park would help local businesses as part of the Covid-19 recovery.

“Nobody really wants to have car parks in the centre of town, but it’s a necessity,” he said.

Pegswood councillor David Towns added that the project was “looking towards the future” and it was a better alternative than “flogging this land off for even more houses and flats”.

The council subsequently approved a parking management plan, with a view to include CCTV cameras and review of the project in 12 months.

Ten members voted in favour of the application and there was one abstention.