Residents in row with Belper Town Council over church car park access

Residents object to belper Town council plans to restrict access to the car park at St Johns Chapel in Belper.
Residents object to belper Town council plans to restrict access to the car park at St Johns Chapel in Belper.
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A row has broken out in Belper over a plan which could ban residents from a long-standing car parking area so it can be used by the town council.

The dispute is over a patch of land attached to St John’s Church, which neighbouring residents have used for many years due to heavy congestion on the surrounding streets.

The church is also home to the town council and under a new agreement with the Diocese of Derby, traffic to the car park would be strictly limited.

Resident Andrew Wilson said: “In November, a note quietly appeared on the gatepost saying the land would soon no longer be for public use.

“The council will lease it at no cost for the first three years, while they resurface the car park for their own use.”

He added: “There is space for 45 cars, but as it is accessed over consecrated ground the diocese are restricting it to 21, or ‘casual use’.”

Residents say the land could accommodate up to 45 parking spaces.

Residents say the land could accommodate up to 45 parking spaces.

Residents have been advised to use the Coppice car park instead - but that proposal has been met with dissent.

Gardener Richard Toulson said: “I have to carry all my tools, and we have families with small children and pushchairs, and vulnerable adults.

“Expecting everyone to walk ten minutes to an isolated car park seems self-serving from the council.”

Town clerk Liz Page said: “If we can’t carry out the repairs and ensure parking for staff, visitors and councillors, we may have to move.

The main sticking point concerns a short access road to the car park, which is classed by the church as consecrated land.

The main sticking point concerns a short access road to the car park, which is classed by the church as consecrated land.

“The deal is not signed yet, and we asked the diocese about the limit, but it is non-negotiable. We have invited residents to discuss a permit scheme at a public meeting on Tuesday, January 23.”