NEW parking rules will be enforced in a market town in a bid to attract more visitors– despite objections from council staff.

Following a review of traffic disruption, safety, congestion and parking issues, Durham County Council’s highways committee agreed measures for the Market Place in Crook.

With no waiting restrictions currently in place, traffic surveys revealed that two thirds of the site is often filled throughout the day.

Since the surveys were carried out, a report states, an additional 81 staff have been relocated to Crook from other county council offices placing 'additional pressure' on parking in the area.

As parking difficulties were potentially affecting tourism, highways officers devised new plans to tackle the issue.

This includes a three-hour parking limit on the Market Place car park site between 8am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, with no return within four hours.

The proposals aim to 'encourage a turnover of use and improve the economic vitality of the town''.

During consultation, some council staff and local businesses lodged objections to the plans and concerns were also raised about parking availability for the Coroner’s Court if the changes were pushed through.

However, the parking proposals won backing from Crook ward councillors including Coun Andrea Patterson – who serves as cabinet member for corporate services and rural issues.

A letter from Cllr Patterson, read to the committee, said tourists and visitors often struggle to park due to limited signage and parking taken up by people working in the town and she felt the changes would have economic, environmental and health benefits for the area.

She said: “Retail is changing in many towns and villages and the long-term sustainability is a challenge for all.

“In Crook, we have a new Lidl store and Aldi store under construction which is due to open later in the year and a new Heron store.

“Visitor numbers to Crook from the Dales are increasing for their weekly shop and we are becoming a more attractive stop-off for visitors travelling to the Dales.

“We have felt there was a missed opportunity for Crook to be the gateway to the Dales and parking has always been one of the barriers for attracting visitors.

“People who live and work in the town have the option of walking to work or parking a little further away – it’s only an additional 40-100 metres to walk to a long-stay car park in the surrounding areas.

“The extra few metres would have a positive impact on health outcomes and free up much-needed car parking spaces.”

She added: "As the cabinet member for corporate services, I would like to make the committee aware that we have worked with council employees who are new to the town to understand where alternative car parks are and we advise all our staff to be good neighbours.”

At the Durham County Hall meeting, councillors agreed that the Market Place plans and a raft of other parking measures would benefit the town.

This includes shortening the parking area in front of the Crook Hotel to provide an extra two parking spaces.

Following a unanimous vote in favour, the parking rules will be passed on to the council’s corporate director for final decision.

Cllr Ivan Jewell said: “Unfortunately we’re not going to please everyone but we need to think about the best for the majority of people and I think these recommendations do that."

New parking rules for Crook:

‘No Waiting at Any Time’ restrictions at:  

Hope Street Car Park (rear of doctors surgery)  

B6298 / Park Avenue Close junction  

Rear of Hope Street (adjacent to Dale Care)  

A690 / Dale View Junction  

Addison Street (adjacent to number 10)  

West End Villas  

Emerson Street / Dawson Street junction

‘Blue Badge Parking’ (max stay 3 hours, no return within 3 hours)

 Hope Street Car Park (rear of doctors surgery)

‘Blue Badge Parking’ (max stay 3 hours, no return within 4 hours) 

 Market Place Car Park

‘No Stopping Except Taxis’ (Mon – Sat, 9am – 6pm)

 North Terrace (south side)

Restricted Parking (Mon – Sat, 8am – 6pm, 3 hours, no return within 4 hours) 

Market Place Car Park

Restricted Parking (Mon – Sat, 8am – 6pm, 30 mins, no return within 30 mins) 

Hope Street (adjacent to Crook Hotel)  

North Terrace (south side, adjacent to church) 

Removal of Restrictions: 

Hope Street – Loading Bay to be shortened (adjacent to Crook Hotel)  

Emerson Street – No Waiting at any time restrictions to be amended