PLANS to convert part of Brown Street Car Park into a new short stay coach park are moving forward.

On Thursday tourism bosses met with Wiltshire and city councillors to outline plans for coach parking provision once Millstream Coach Park closes as part of the Maltings redevelopment.

Under the proposals part of Brown Street Car Park will be turned into a short stay coach park with room for eight to 12 coaches.

The car park will be redesigned, a toilet block will be constructed and the rest of the space would be retained for cars, motorcycles and disabled parking.

Coaches for day trippers and tourists spending longer in the city will go to Britford park and ride, after they have dropped off their passengers, where there will be facilities for drivers.

The current coach drop off point on St John’s Street will be retained for people who are visiting Salisbury Cathedral, and Stanhope – the developer behind the Maltings scheme – has pledged to provide another drop off point for people visiting the other side of the city.

John Burch from the Confederation of Passenger Transport which has awarded Salisbury Coach Friendly Status said he felt the proposals would help the city to retain the important accolade.

“Coach travel is vital for the economy of any tourist destination and brings in visitors of all ages,” he said.

“There are lots of criteria we look for when awarding – and seeing if a destination is able to retain – Coach Friendly Status and what is happening in Salisbury is very promising.”

Although the closure of Millstream Coach Park could still be years away as the Maltings re-development moves through the planning process, chief executive of VisitWiltshire David Andrews said it was important to have a plan for the future in place.

“Coach operators book years in advance and are aware of what is happening at Millstream,” he said. “We need to assure them that a properly tested and worked out plan is already in place rather than having to rush something through.

“With other destinations looking to attract more coaches, we have to up our game here in Salisbury.”

Last year 6000 coaches used Millstream Coach Park.

Critics of the new plan are worried more coaches will be travelling through the narrow city streets, increasing traffic congestion.

Ian Newman from Salisbury City Centre Management said: “There will be consultation every step of the way and any scheme would be fully piloted first.

“There will be set routes for coaches to reach Brown Street, for example they won’t use Ivy Street which is a bit narrow.

“We were always going to be looking at coach parking again in Salisbury, it is essential for our economy. “We have had a very positive meeting outlining these proposals which are still at an early stage.”