MOVES to allow motorists to resume parking in a historic Northumberland market square after a 10-year hiatus are set to come a step closer.
Northumberland County Council’s planning committee is being recommended to agree to the introduction of restricted parking at the centuries-old Alnwick Market Place.
The decision will be made at a meeting on Tuesday and the prospect of parking returning was welcomed by Alnwick Chamber of Trade.
Parking was outlawed in the Market Place 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 is effectively unenforceable by the police.
The county council proposed earlier this year that double yellow lines could be introduced to the cobbled space. However, local people voiced opposition, claiming they would be “unsightly”.
In April, the council set up a special working group, which included local councillors, traders and the police, 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 backed by the council’s north area committee in July after which residents and businesses were consulted.
A total of 131 forms were sent out, with only 12 responses received, seven for and five against, including one from Alnwick Civic Society which is opposed to any parking in the square.
The measures are now going before the authority’s planning and environment committee with the recommendation that they are implemented in 2013, in place of the existing pedestrian zone.
The council has the power to order a public inquiry, but says its does not believe this will be necessary.
Last night, Carlo Biagioni, chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade and a member of the working group, said the restricted zone is preferable to the current free for all and double yellow lines.
“We have worked hard together with the council and the highways department,” he said. “This is a half-way idea.
“It will be good for pedestrians, it will be good for people parking as well, people coming to shop in the town.
“We welcome it. We are pleased with what they have come up with.”