A PROPOSAL to turn Brown Street car park into a new coach park has received a lukewarm response.

Salisbury city councillor Helena McKeown posed the question after she was asked to see whether local people were in favour of the city centre car park being used for tourist coach parking instead.

The plan would see coach drivers dropping their passengers off in Brown Street so they can visit the city’s attractions.

Drivers with passengers who are spending a long time in the city could then go on to Britford park and ride, while short-stay coaches would wait in Brown Street.

A new coach parking plan is needed because the existing Millstream coach park will be lost as part of developer Stanhope’s project to redevelop the Maltings and Central car park.

Salisbury currently has Coach Friendly Status and tourism chiefs say it is vital the city keeps the accreditation in order to compete with rival tourist destinations.

But several groups including blue badge tourist guides, shoppers and motorcyclists have already raised questions about using Brown Street car park as a coach park.

“The route to Brown Street would be up Exeter Street, Catherine Street, right into Milford Street and right again into Brown Street. This movement would then be repeated when the coach returns to pick up passengers,” said Blue Badge guide Helena Wright. “Compare this with the present coach park at Millstream. Coaches slip in discreetly off the ring road and stay there, avoiding vehicle movement in the town centre.

“The 2015 Magna Carta celebrations at the cathedral will very likely increase this traffic. That’s a lot of people coming to spend, and any shrinkage in this would be bad for local businesses.

“Millstream has a refreshment kiosk and pub, a room for drivers and, most importantly, toilets. These are quite old and need to be refurbished, but are vital. It has been suggested that portable toilets are put in Brown Street. What kind of place is this which spends £75m on a new development and presents visitors with portable toilets?”

Nick Hancock from Salisbury Motorcycle Action Group added: “There are currently plans to increase motorcycle parking in this area (Brown Street). This is to replace the motorcycle spaces lost from the market square and New Canal.

"If Brown Street car park were to become a coach park then new plans for motorcycle parking will need to be drawn up, effectively writing off the money already spent.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “The Salisbury Vision task group on car and coach parking has been exploring options with key stakeholders to relocate short stay coach parking to an area of Brown Street car park.

“The group will be working closely with the council’s transport service to test the feasibility of this option.

While a change of use of for Brown Street car park would result in the loss of some existing parking, the refurbished Shoppers car park at Culver Street is very close by and is now free of charge on Sundays.”