New spaces to help tackle Great Yarmouth seafront parking problem

The seafront in Great Yarmouth during the summer season.August 2013.Picture: James Bass

The seafront in Great Yarmouth during the summer season.August 2013.Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

More than 150 new parking spaces are set to be created along the Golden Mile, as 'common sense' is used to solve the shortage.

Councillors have stepped down over plans to demolish the Marina Centre toilets, instead saving one of the two blocks and building around 50 parking spaces.

It follows concerns reported in last week's paper.

And bosses have now announced work to create 92 parking spaces on two of the underused North Drive tennis courts, and around 32 spaces on a storage area by St Nicholas car park, opposite the Pleasure Beach Gardens.

Michael Jeal, the borough council's car parking cabinet member, said: 'A lot of the seafront tourism businesses have been asking for a number of years for more car parking.

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'There's plenty of tennis court provision elsewhere so we can turn some into car parking.

'The foundations mean it will save us money.

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'We're looking at anywhere at the moment.'

He explained that the St Nicholas car park spaces would be relatively cheap to create, as they had been parking spaces before they were used as storage related to the InteGreat seafront scheme.

And while there are no other areas currently set to become parking, a section of beach had been considered.

'We were looking at behind the Marina Centre, but that's far too costly,' explained Mr Jeal. 'From about 10am there's a big shadow and nobody really sits there.'

Concerns over plans to demolish the Marina Centre toilets were reported in last week's paper, and the council has now reached a compromise with objectors.

In order to create further dedicated spaces for the leisure centre, the council has reduced the number of planned spaces from 60 to 50 and will retain one of the two public toilet blocks.

The western block, currently the men's toilets, would be demolished, but the eastern block, currently the women's toilets, would be retained and partitioned to include the facilities for both genders.

Mr Jeal said: 'This is an example of democracy in action.

'We have listened to businesses' concerns and public opinion, held discussions, and reached this compromise, which meets both of our needs.'

Billy Daniels, of Pirates' Cove Adventure Golf Course, had objected to original plans, but was pleased by the development.

'Our understanding is that the council has decided to sacrifice a few of the planned car parking spaces to make way for a scaled down toilet facility,' he said. 'In our opinion this was the common sense solution as the existing toilet block was unnecessarily large.

'Hopefully the new scheme will protect the interests of the public and tourism businesses in the locality while also providing the Marina Leisure Centre with the helping hand that it needs in terms of parking.'

Tourist trader Mark Jolly, whose company Leisure Climbing operates the summer climbing wall by the Marina Centre, said he still has concerns over how the plans would affect his business.

But he is speaking to council officers to see if his concerns can be allayed.

The amended planning application is scheduled to be considered by the development control committee in October.

The tennis court parking plan was given the green light at Tuesday's planning meeting at Great Yarmouth Town Hall.

After the courts are lost there will still be 27 across the borough, and Sport England figures revealed this is plenty to cater for active players locally.

Across the country 1.04pc of adults aged over 16 play tennis regularly, but in the borough this is nearer 0.5pc - equating to around 400 people.

The tennis court with a basketball hoop on it will be among the courts to remain at North Drive, and it was heard that the most frequently used courts in the borough are those in Bradwell and at the former Claydon High School.

Marie Field, borough councillor for Central and Northgate ward, told the meeting: 'I can't see any objection, and the tennis courts are hardly used.'

And Charles Reynolds, borough councillor for Ormesby ward, said: 'Great Yarmouth has got to be a car-friendly town.

'People want to get to the venue and not be half a mile away.

'This is going to be a big plus for the seafront.'

The application won unanimous approval.

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