A 12-month pilot scheme allowing self-contained motorhomes and campervans to park in some South Hams car parks has been agreed – but four locations have been taken off the list.
South Hams District Council’s executive, when they met on Thursday morning, agreed to adapt their proposed plans after listening to more than 700 responses received in the motorhome consultation.
The meeting heard that the proposals had been largely met with support, but after listening to public concerns about four of the proposed locations, North Sands in Salcombe, Memorial in Slapton and Torcross Tank in Torcross and Quay Car Park in Kingsbridge will no longer be considered for the pilot scheme.
The five car parks across the district which are proposed to be included in the pilot scheme are Leonards Car Park in Ivybridge, the Cattlemarket Car Park in Kingsbridge, the Poundwell Meadow Overflow Car Park in Modbury, the Longmarsh Car Park in Totnes and Dartmouth Park & Ride Car Park.
The pilot, which will begin from May 29. has been designed to help improve local tourism because there are ever-increasing numbers of motorhomes and campervan users opting to use car parks and other locations for overnight stays in the South Hams, and this is anticipated to increase as a result of restrictions on overseas travel due to the pandemic.
Stays will be allowed at the named car parks for self-contained motorhomes and campervans only for an overnight fee of £10 per night, overnight from 6 p.m. until 9 a.m. The proposed pilot will allow overnight sleeping for a maximum two-night consecutive stay with no return within 48 hours.
Cllr Keith Baldry, South Hams District Council’s executive member for environment, said: “We want to do everything we can to support our businesses to get back on their feet by encouraging tourism to the South Hams. By making it easier for motorhome owners to visit our District and to bring their money to spend in our shops, restaurants, pubs and leisure attractions, it is a step in the right direction in helping us build up our local economy and supporting our local families and communities.
“Therefore, we are delighted that so many residents have taken the time and effort to share their thoughts on this pilot scheme. We have read their comments and have listened carefully to what they have to say and in light of their thoughts, we removed four of our nine proposed sites from our considerations.
“This pilot scheme is aimed at self-contained motorhomes which have their own on board toilet facilities for short two-night stays in our car parks. To further address respondents’ concerns, if this proposal is agreed, we propose to have regular patrols by our Localities and Car Park teams who would visit sites, during peak times, to make sure sites remain clean and tidy so that locals and visitors can all appreciate the facilities.”
He added: “This is a very important proposal for tourism in the South Hams. It is a beautiful tourist area and there are so many businesses that depend on tourists and that is why we are doing this and we are doing all we can to support businesses to get back on their feet and support tourism.
“This is making it easier for motorhomes and camper vans to visit our district and to spend their money in our shops and restaurants and to have the benefit of the beautiful South Hams that we enjoy all year around. We will keep an eye on it and it is not successful then we will alter it.”
Cllr Nicky Hopwood added: “I hope it will prove to be a success with those who use the overnight facilities to respect the area, and I have every confidence that they will respect the area. It will bring money into the area and help our tourism.
“There is a shortage of sites and we are still facing an influx of people coming to the South Hams, and good on them for coming here, but they won’t get onto sites if they haven’t booked. This is a pilot scheme and we will see how it works, but it will only work with good management.”
Cllr Julian Brazil added: “This gets it about right. The general perception of the public is it will be a disaster and they are waiting for it to fail, and it’s a shame to come late in the day, but I am supportive of the concept of this, we listened to the consultation, and we have reacted.
“Not everyone will be happy but it is a trial and we can see how it goes and with proper monitoring and rubbish collection, it can be a great news story, but at the end of the season if we can turn around and say that worked well.”
Emma Widdicombe, senior parking specialist, in her report to the executive, added: “The supporting responses said that it was a progressive idea, it will promote tourism in the area and encourage people to visit and spend in the local towns, a pilot scheme is a great way to demonstrate motorhome owners are responsible and it will bring evening business into local businesses.
“But objections were around themes such as car parks are for parking and not for camping, concerns there is already a lack of parking in high season, concerns about waste, antisocial behaviour, noise and lack of toilet facilities, that the roads are too narrow to cope with the size of vehicles and that the policy will not be enforced.”
She added: “To mitigate the risks throughout the pilot, an enhanced team of seasonal locality officers, as well as, the team of Civil Enforcement Officers, will provide enforcement through penalty charge notices to those not complying with the rules and regulations. This will include out of hours visits.”
The executive unanimously agreed to introduce the motorhome policy and charges, and to approve the variation of the Off Street Parking Order for introduction from May 29.