Friends call for complete ban on parking at North Lodge Park in Cromer
- Credit: ALLY MCGILVRAY
The Friends of North Lodge Park in Cromer have reiterated their objection to North Norfolk District Council's plans to build a 48-space car park on the site of the former tennis courts.
A group set-up to safeguard the future of one of the north Norfolk coast's best-known beauty spots has called for a complete ban on all parking at the visitor attraction.
The Friends of North Lodge Park in Cromer have reiterated their objection to North Norfolk District Council's (NNDC) plans to build a 48-space car park on the site of the former tennis courts.
They also claim a decision to allow local residents to vote on the future of the park could be damaging.
However, with their own plans to create a new children's play area in the park, the fundraising group, which runs the North Lodge Park cafe, hasn't completely ruled out a car park being built in the future - if the money raised can be reinvested in developing the park.
And they have called for a long-term vision for the park to be produced to ensure it is sustainable.
Barry Meadows, secretary of the Friends of North Lodge Park, said: 'We, the committee for the Friends of North Lodge Park, do not wish to see more parking in the park. Ideally, we would like to get rid of all parking.
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'We also want to see the park put on a sustainable footing for the future, which requires a significant guaranteed revenue stream. No matter how often or how loudly anyone says: 'NNDC should be funding the park properly', without new money we do not think there is any chance of anything beyond minimal maintenance for the foreseeable future because of the significantly increased financial constraints on local government.
'As a committee, we have had to make a difficult decision. We would much rather the area proposed for the car park is used again for children's games and educational activities; but we know from our surveys that a significant percentage (50%) would support a small car park provided it enabled the rest of the park to be safeguarded and enhanced.
'We do not support the current car park proposal, and have written to NNDC with our considered view that the current proposal has no benefit to the wider park. We have asked NNDC to work with the community to develop a long term plan for the whole park.'
It has been confirmed a referendum, asking residents for their views will be held on Thursday, October 13, after being demanded at a parish meeting last week.
The poll question to be asked was also approved at the parish meeting: 'Do you wish to see any part of North Lodge Park converted into a car park? Yes or No?'
Mr Meadows said: 'We believe holding this parish poll is a lose-lose for the Park.
'In the event of a yes vote, or a significant yes vote, NNDC may feel they have the town's support for the proposed car park without any benefit going to the park. In the event of a no vote, which is not enforceable, will there be new money for the park or will it continue on a minimal maintenance basis?
'If NNDC rejects the result, will the proposed car park be installed with no benefit to the wider park?'
But he added: 'North Lodge Park will require significant funding which is unlikely to come from NNDC. A car park may prove to be the only realistic revenue source. So while opposed to the current planning application, (the) committee does not believe the option of a revenue-producing car park in North Lodge Park should be completely discounted. It should at least be used as a basis to discuss how North Lodge Park can be funded and managed in the future.
'We need to find a way to have a sensible debate within the community and with NNDC. We do not think the proposed parish poll is the way to do it.'
Cromer Town Council has announced it will host a special public meeting to discuss the plans in the council chamber at North Lodge Park on Tuesday, October 4, at 6.30pm.
It will consider whether to ask NNDC to send letters to each household to inform them of the parish poll, and members of the public will be given an opportunity to speak.
Meanwhile, local business leaders have also announced details of a special open meeting to discuss the plans.
Cromer and District Chamber of Trade and Commerce, which has voiced its support for the car park, will host the event in the Function Room at The Red Lion, Brook Street, Cromer on Thursday, October 6, at 5.30pm. All businesses are invited.