The car park proposal
North Norfolk District Council have submitted plans for a car park in North Lodge Park, with conversion of the old bandstand to public toilets.
- a 48 space car park, with 6 disabled spaces, wholly on the old children’s play area (‘concrete area’);
- conversion of the old bandstand into public toilets;
- no trees to be removed and additional trees planted;
- a new opening onto Overstrand Road to facilitate car entry and exit with styling to match the existing entrance;
- ‘heritage style’ height restriction bar;
- surface to be shingle style in a plastic grid;
- lighting to be low level;
- no other improvements to the rest of the Park.
There are a number of points to be addressed to improve these proposals, such as
- one objective is for the car park to serve the businesses at the east end of Cromer, but there is no easy way for pedestrians to exit the car park onto Overstrand Road and to that part of town;
- there is a lack of clear pedestrian routes through the car-park;
- the rear transfer areas to the disabled spaces conflict with the routes for cars;
- the number of parking spaces restricts available roadway in the car park which suggests vehicular movement round the area will be difficult
- there are no details about intended traffic flow to and from the proposed car park, nor details of signage outside the Park and the impact on traffic movement in Cromer is unclear;
- implementation of measures that reduce traffic into North Lodge Park itself through the current entrance from Overstrand Road should be within this project .
Putting the proposals in context
How would it benefit our Park?
The old children’s play area (sometimes known as ‘the concrete area’), where the car park is proposed is not a brownfield site: it is a core part of the recreational space in the Park. The area has been left to deteriorate for a number of years, used for a waste transfer facility and more latterly a builders’ yard, but previous to that it has always been an area of recreation. Key questions to answer are; “Is a car park the best use of this part of the Park considering the Park as a whole and how would it benefit our Park?”
On paper the current proposals seem to be counter to many of the council’s core policies (see footnote). These policies can be summarised to say that any development of an open space must improve that space. It could be argued that the car park is an improvement to the current state of the old children’s play area. But that’s a bit like saying putting a new uPVC front door on a dilapidated Listed house is an improvement while the rest of the house falls down. The car park is like the new front door while the rest of the Park continues to deteriorate.
The whole park
NNDC policies support our strong belief, that the Park needs to be seen as a whole. NNDC are developing plans to work with a strategic partner for the long term sustainability of the Park (with a Prior Information Notice, PIN, providing information and seeking ‘bids’ from anyone interested in ‘managing’ North Lodge Park). We would like clarity on how NNDC see this project in the context of those plans for the proposed management of North Lodge Park. The income generated by a car park would fund the Park and take away future costs and liabilities from NNDC.
It could be argued, particularly by the 50% of respondents to our latest survey who said that you could accept – with caveats – a car park in North Lodge Park, that if a car park is inevitable then this proposal is about as good as we’ll get from NNDC. However, apart from providing parking for the Park, thereby increasing accessibility and footfall, these proposals take from the Park rather than give. These are proposals for part of the Park without the context, costs and benefits of plans for the Park as a whole.
This is a big decision for Cromer, and we need more information to make it an informed decision. We have written to NNDC requesting the fuller picture and will keep you informed..
Do let us know what you think. More importantly let NNDC know!
Footnote: NNDC policies that the car park proposals seem to be counter to.
- NNDC’s Policy EN5 Public Realm states: Within areas designated as Public Realm proposals will be expected to enhance the overall appearance and usability of the area, and a co-ordinated approach to management will be encouraged;
- Core Strategy Policy CT1 Open Space designations states: Development will not be permitted except where it enhances the open character or recreational use of the land;
- NNDC’s policy EN8 Protecting and enhancing the Historic Environment states: Development proposals … should preserve or enhance the character and appearance of designated assets … and their settings through high quality, sensitive design. Development that would have an adverse impact on their special historic or architectural interest will not be permitted.