NEXT week, Durham’s Sands car park will be closed to enable Durham County Council to begin work on its new headquarters. As things stand, it is not due to reopen for two years.

The 136-space car park is the largest council-owned facility in the city, and the closure comes at the same time as part of the Prince Bishop’s multi-storey car park is closed for refurbishment.

Unsurprisingly, fears have been expressed at the potential negative impact on businesses in Durham during the busy summer holiday period.

Elizabeth Scott, chairwoman of the City of Durham Parish Council, has branded the decision to close the Sands car park “unbelievable” and questioned where tourists and residents are going to park instead.

Dave Wafer, Durham County Council’s strategic traffic manager, insists plans are in place to ensure the city copes. The Riverwalk car park offers alternative spaces, while the city’s park-and-ride scheme is also operational. “It is very much business as usual,” he said.

It is to be hoped Mr Wafer’s optimism is justified. All major cities suffer from parking problems, but the compact nature of Durham city centre means the issue is already especially acute.

For the sake of all those who live in, work in and visit Durham, we hope the Council have thought this through. Durham might be one of England’s great cities – but that will be of precious little consolation to those who are trying to get into it if they have nowhere to park.