Concerns raised over Durham coach park move
Durham’s coach park is due to move to a site 2 and a half miles outside of the city centre.
Durham City Coaches alerted the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) to the situation. Its MD, Michael Lightfoot, said: “It doesn’t affect us too much, but it does if we have inbound tourists into Durham. A World Heritage Site wants to have the coach in the centre of the town.”
He acknowledges the move of the coach park is connected with a wider development project within the city centre, which is subject to final planning approval. Among the plans is for the council buildings to be built at The Sands car park in the city, next to the coach park. The proposed new coach park has planning consent.
Michael said: “There are going to be around 300 people working there in the new office blocks. It’s not going to be great on traffic. Durham is going to block up at rush hour. It’s going to be ridiculous. With the new coach park, we will be driving in and out of the city in an ever-increasing traffic flow and congestion. It’s going to put groups off going. It’s ridiculous.”
The Council claims discussions have been taking place with coach operators and drivers; many of whom have said that they would welcome improved facilities, such as washrooms and running water to clean their vehicles. Visit County Durham (the destination marketing arm of the council) has also contacted coach operators for their comments.
However, Michael, whose operation is based in Brandon, near Durham, claimed the council has kept the plan very low key. “I only heard about it through a market trader who told me. There’s been an awful lot of objections, but they’re falling on deaf ears.”
Dave Wafer, Strategic Transport Manager, Durham County Council, said: “The current coach park has no facilities for coach drivers and visitors, and it can only accommodate a maximum of 11 coaches. There is limited space available within the historic city to provide expanded coach parking facilities.
“The Council has been exploring suitable options to improve coach parking in the city and as a result is relocating it to a new larger facility with 30 spaces next to an existing Park and Ride site in Belmont. The new coach park will be 2 and a half miles outside of the city centre and benefits from 1 and a half miles of bus lanes on the approach. The new coach park will provide coach drivers with access to better facilities, enabling drivers to clean their vehicles inside and out; with running water, waste bins provided and the use of existing on-site washrooms at the Park & Ride site. We are also looking to provide a disposal facility for chemical toilets. Coach parking will continue to be free. Coaches will continue to pick-up and drop-off visitors in the city centre.”
CPT’s Northern & Yorkshire Regional Manager, Andrew McGuinness, said: “While CPT and its coach operator members are disappointed to be losing the centrally located Sands Coach Park, we are pleased to note that the new coach park and park and ride site at Belmont Park, just off the A1, will offer additional driver facilities and a toilet drop. CPT continues to work closely with officials at Durham County Council and other industry stakeholders to ensure that the needs of coaches and coach passengers remain high on their agenda.”