With continued uncertainty about the opportunities for people to take overseas holidays this summer due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, it is expected that demand for staycation holidays in the UK will be strong; such that tourist destinations, such as North Norfolk, will need to make some contingency arrangements to manage larger numbers of staying and day visitors to the district than might be the case in a more “normal” year. This report details the consideration the District Council is giving to the management of larger numbers of visitors to the District during the summer of 2021.
Do nothing and potentially see overcrowded seaside resort locations where a lack of parking, overcrowded beaches and town / village centres mean that visitors do not have a positive experience of the District and may not make repeat visits in future years.
That the Council seeks to take a number of actions as detailed in the report to accommodate larger numbers of visitors to the District during this summer as part of the District’s Recovery from the COVID pandemic in a way which seeks to minimise transmission of the virus, protects local residents and visitors, supports local businesses and economic recovery in the short, medium and longer terms.
Reason for Recommendations:-
Council is asked to note the report and actions proposed to accommodate large numbers of visitors to the District this summer, including:-
· Provision of advanced road signage promoting the large capacity of the Runton Road Car Park in Cromer, including the overflow “Carnival” field;
· Proposed provision of chargeable weekend and Bank Holiday parking at the District Council’s Holt Road offices in Cromer;
· Exploring the operation of a Park and Ride service to serve Sheringham in conjunction with a private landowner in the A148 corridor to the south of the town, with a frequent bus service to the town centre (to operate throughout July and August);
· Exploring the provision of a food court area from which to serve takeaway food / street food by local businesses from the vacant former tennis court area of North Lodge Park, with additional seating and bins in the park to reduce queues and congestion in the town centre
· Refreshing our social distancing measures and signage as appropriate
· With Visit North Norfolk promote less busy parts of the District for visitors to explore to “avoid the crowds” through social media and other campaigns
· Review the provision and servicing of litter bins and public toilets in main visitor locations in the District to manage larger visitor numbers
· Provision of a composting toilet at the Beach Road car park in Weybourne in response to increased numbers of visitors to this car park.
To ensure the Council makes appropriate advance planning arrangements to accommodate larger numbers of visitors to the District’s principal coastal resorts over the 2021 summer.
Cabinet Member(s): Cllr Richard Kershaw
Ward(s) affected:- All, but particularly coastal wards and wards in The Broads area
Contact Officer, telephone number and email:
Steve Blatch, Chief Executive
Telephone:- 01263 516232
The Chief Executive introduced this item. He said that it set out the consideration that the Council was giving to the management of larger numbers of visitors to the District during the summer of 2021. He outlined the key challenges, including an increased demand for holiday homes, car parking, improved road signage and the promotion of quieter areas of the District, to reduce pressure on the coastal towns. He then set out proposals for each of the main coastal towns to manage the anticipated rise in visitor numbers and to ensure that compliance with Covid regulations and guidance was maintained throughout.
The Chairman invited members to comment:
Cllr J Rest referred to the recommendation regarding the provision of a food court area in North Lodge park in Cromer. He asked whether the reference to local businesses meant existing businesses in the area to set up a satellite business or whether other traders who wouldn’t normally trade in that way would be allowed to participate. He also asked whether they would have to be registered with NNDC. The Chief Executive replied that the opportunities would initially be offered to businesses that already had a presence in Cromer such as cafes and restaurants. Conversations were currently ongoing. He confirmed that they would be businesses registered with the Council in terms of food hygiene and commercial licences.
Cllr E Withington said that Sheringham would welcome the opportunity for a Park and Ride scheme in the town. She thanked the Chief Executive for the information and work that had been undertaken so far regarding preparations for the summer season.
Cllr G Hayman asked about the former playgroup building in North Lodge park and whether consideration was being given to it being brought into use over the summer. The Chief Executive replied that the Council’s Estates team was currently looking at options for the building.
Cllr N Pearce asked about car boot sites, saying that there may be an issue regarding additional traffic in relation to these. He also raised concerns regarding the new McDonalds restaurant in Cromer, saying that the traffic on the first day of trading had been exceptionally heavy. In addition litter from the site had begun to appear across the District. The Chief Executive replied that car boot sales had not been considered but this would be monitored together with outdoor markets. Regarding the new McDonalds, he said that the traffic on the first day had been exceptional and had eased off now. The littering situation was the subject of ongoing discussions with the operator.
Cllr S Penfold commented that there were lots of hidden gems across the District and he supported the proposals to promote them more.
To note the report and the actions listed.