On 29th July, the City of Durham Parish Council were notified that the Sands carpark is due to close from the 11th August to enable the construction of the new County Council Headquarters building.
The move to close the Sands car park will result in the loss of one hundred and thirty car parking spaces. In addition to this, the County Council is also taking away the longer stay spaces at the Sidegate carpark and changing the tariffs to this carpark in order to create more short stay spaces. The coach park currently in operation at the Sands will also be moved to Belmont from 11th August. The County Council is also currently consulting on a scheme to introduce 10 parking bays specifically for the use of the Market Traders on a Saturday at Providence Row, over 100m away from the Sands car park, which a number of the traders using high sided vehicles currently use. These changes to the car parking provision in the City are entirely to support the construction of the new County Council Headquarters at the Sands; a scheme the City of Durham Parish Council has long objected to.
Chair of the City of Durham Parish Council Cllr Elizabeth Scott said, “this is really unbelievable from this County Council. They are closing the most central, well used open air carpark in the City at the height of the Summer tourist season. At the same time, they are doing away with the long stay spaces at Sidegate at a time when much of the Prince Bishop’s multi-storey carpark is closed for refurbishment. Where exactly do they expect visitors of the City to park? To add to this, the alternative provision of the replacement coach park at Belmont is totally unsuitable and something we as a Parish Council have never been consulted on. This is all being done to enable the construction of their new County HQ which will have a devastating impact on our City.”
Chair of the City of Durham Parish Council Planning Committee Cllr Roger Cornwell added, “aside from anything else, I know this news will come as a real blow to the many businesses we have in our City centre who rely on visitors to our City for their livelihoods. The County Council say this is “very much business as usual” but it won’t be for the many market traders who are now faced with no parking provision at all ahead of these plans being put in place, nor will it be for the many retailers we have in our City. To add further insult to injury, the Parish Council are only given two weeks’ notice of this.”