Anger at white line plans for historic Alnwick Market Place

Northumberland County Council's plans for painting white lines on the cobbles of Alnwick Market Place have been met with anger

Simon Greener Peter Ennor Chairman of Alnwick civic society who does not want to see the market place parking spaces painted
Peter Ennor Chairman of Alnwick civic society who does not want to see the market place parking spaces painted

Plans to mark a parking area in an historic Northumberland market place with white lines have angered heritage champions.

Northumberland County Council has confirmed it will be painting lines in cobbled Alnwick Market Place once restricted parking is introduced.

The move was last night condemned by Alnwick Civic Society, which said the lines would “ruin the impression” of the site.

Members had pressed the authority to instead use studs, claiming they would be “less intrusive.”

However, the council insisted studs would be “unsuitable” for the cobbles - but has pledged the lines will be “minimal.”

Parking was outlawed in the centuries old Market Place more than a decade ago as part of a European-funded, £500,000 pedestrianisation and improvement scheme.

But drivers have been flouting the order for years, resulting in a parking free-for-all and claims that the ban was effectively unenforceable by the police.

The county council proposed last year that double yellow lines could be introduced to the cobbled space. However, local people voiced opposition, claiming they would be “unsightly.”

That April, the council set up a special working group to try and come up with a solution.

The group proposed that 13 bays be created next to the Northumberland Hall to allow regulated parking to return and enable fines to be handed out to any drivers who flout the new rules.

Motorists would be allowed to park for up to 30 minutes in the square, and disabled and motorcycle parking – as well as three or four loading areas to service shops and cafes, along with limited waiting bays – were also proposed under the scheme.

The proposals were put out to consultation among residents and businesses with seven responses for and five against, including the civic society.

They have since been agreed by the county council.

However, the proposal to mark the parking area with painted white lines was opposed by the society.

It instead called on the council to use metal studs of the kind employed at car parks in other sensitive locations, such as Bamburgh.

However, the authority confirmed at a site visit attended by the society and councillors that it would be painting lines, with studs said to be “unsuitable” for the cobbles.

Society chairman Peter Ennor last night said: “We were hoping they were going to put in studs which would be less obvious or less intrusive with the street scene.

“It is just going to ruin the impression of the market place. It is rather sad. Unfortunately we feel a bit helpless, there is not much we can do.

“I am sure there are other things which could have been used. We have to bow down to the experts.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We have met with Alnwick Town Council during a site visit and agreed that minimal road markings should be used as the existing floorscape is unsuitable for the studs.

“The bays will have minimal road markings with only small road markings in each corner of the bays.”

Meanwhile, county councillor for Alnwick Heather Cairns has said having “any parking in the market place is wrong,” although she accepted businesses must use it to load.

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