Makeover for cliff car park revealed

Makeover plans for a clifftop park will be revealed to the public today, just before residents go to the polls to vote on the most controversial element - whether to include car parking.

Makeover plans for a clifftop park will be revealed to the public today, just before residents go to the polls to vote on the most controversial element - whether to include car parking.

Cromer's historic North Lodge Park has been earmarked for improvements, including more gardens, trees and a better play area.

But moves also to add up to 65 car parking spaces have sparked vocal opposition, with campaigners demanding a town referendum to get a true picture of local feelings.

A series of plans will be on show at a display in the WI Hall today and tomorrow, followed by the poll.

Drawings and layouts produced by park owners North Norfolk District Council show various configurations, including a new formal garden in front of the North Lodge building, and children's play areas towards the eastern end.

Parking plans ranged from none at all, to 56 spaces on the old tennis courts - currently used as a children's play area - and up to nine disabled spaces in part of the old rose garden.

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Council spokesman Peter Battrick said: "This is not just about car parking, but providing improvements to the amenities for the benefit of all the park's users, young and old.

"We want to involve the public and know what they think."

He added that none of the plans was set in stone, and it would be possible to "pick and mix" - depending on public feedback.

The play areas would not just cater for younger children, but also younger teens, after a recent play survey showed they were poorly provided for in the district.

If there was no parking in the park, it would lose the opportunity to remove cars from the front of the lodge, which it was hoped would improve the look of the area, and safety, by keeping cars away from other park users.

Park campaigner John Edwards, who was one of those behind the call for a town vote on the parking issue, said they were pleased the exhibition and vote had been linked together, but disappointed the voting times were not longer.

The poll asks one question, requiring a yes or no answer - whether any part of the park should be converted to car parking in the development plans.

The result of the vote, which is open to all 6,500 people on the Cromer and Suffield Park voters lists, is not legally binding.

And town clerk Julie Chance said the council would decide on its stance over the park redevelopment after getting the result of the poll, and further feedback from questionnaires, covering a wider range of questions, being sent to local homes and given out at the exhibition.

The exhibition, which will be manned by local officials, runs from 1pm to 9pm today, and 1pm to 4pm tomorrow.

Voting is from 4pm to 9pm tomorrow at the WI and at St Martin's hall in Suffield Park, where copies of the plans will also be on display, but not a full exhibition. No polling cards will be issued.

The cost of the poll, as yet unknown, will be paid for by the town council, and the turnout for such local referenda can vary from 1.3pc to 10pc.