A new coach park has opened in a major boost for tourism in County Durham.
Durham County Council has unveiled new facilities for coaches beside its Belmont park and ride site, on the outskirts of Durham City.
The facility has 30 spaces for coaches, nearly three times the eleven at the site it has replaced.
Coaches using the site will drop people off and pick them up in the city centre, as with the old site.
The park will also be free for coaches and provide better facilities for their drivers.
Cllr Tracie Smith, the council’s Cabinet support member for transformation, culture and tourism, said: “We are delighted that our new coach park is now open.
“Durham City and the county as a whole are great places to visit and having a much bigger coach park paves the way for many more people to come here.
“That all means more money being spent in our attractions, shops and places to eat and drink, providing a significant boost to our economy.”
The new park has facilities allowing coach drivers to clean their vehicles both inside and out.
It will also soon have facilities for them to empty chemical toilets – the only site where they will be able to do so between York and Edinburgh.
Drivers are already able to travel on the park and ride bus for free, from 7am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday, and can use the park and ride site’s toilet facilities.
Adam Deathe, Durham BID manager, said: “The investment in the new coach park at Belmont Park and Ride underlines yet further the confidence multiple parties have in the city. Visiting coach operators had long requested the provision of improved facilities for drivers and this development now means that Durham has facilities worthy of our magnificent city. Making the city more appealing to tour operators will undoubtedly only lead to more people coming to Durham, supporting the businesses and enjoying the multifaceted offer.”
The site is located on the A690, approximately 300m east of Junction 62 of the A1, ten minutes from Durham City centre.
The pick-up and drop-off point for passengers is at Freeman’s Place in Durham City centre, as it was for the previous coach park which was located at The Sands.
The site and its facilities have been welcomed by coach driver Derek Hannah, a driver for Klarners Coaches of Colchester in Essex, who says it has plenty of space for parking and is both safe and secure.
He added: “We’ve got the park and ride system that we can use to go in and out of Durham should we wish to. We’ll have the washing facilities and other facilities here so yes overall it’s a very good system.”
For information visit, https://www.durham.gov.uk/article/21749/Coach-parking-in-Durham-City and to watch a short film about the new coach park, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfNNurGeH3U
For information about park and ride sites, visit https://www.durham.gov.uk/parkandride