Preliminary work involving the identification of potential alternative coach space in Bourton-on-the-Water has begun after the owner of the Bourton Vale combined car and coach park indicated that it would no longer welcome coaches beyond December.
The coach area at that location was leased by Cotswold District Council (CDC) in 2016 after its owner, Bourton Vale Parking, had first announced that it was under threat. That step left CDC liable for various costs, including the establishment of a sound barrier for the benefit of nearby houses.
The arrangement with CDC expired in October 2021, but a further lease was established between the owner and a different council. It expires in December, which is understood to be the reason for the owner’s decision to end coach provision beyond then.
CDC says it is “keen to understand” the potential impact of the decision to no longer provide for coaches at Bourton Vale. It expects to convene a meeting of all stakeholders, including a coach industry representative, in September.
However, minutes of a CDC Cabinet meeting held on 7 February note that the lease between it and Bourton Vale Parking for the coach park area was not renewed in 2021 “as there was no benefit to the council or the residents of the district” in doing so.
That position is contradicted by local business groups in the town, which have made clear that they depend heavily on coach passengers. In 2016, CDC noted that withdrawal of coach parking in Bourton “would have a detrimental effect on local businesses [that] rely heavily on the tourist trade,” a position that is out of kilter with its more recent statement.
When the initial threat to coach parking at Bourton Vale arose in 2016, complaints from nearby residents about engine idling formed part of the owner’s justification. It is not known whether that is a factor in the latest plan to end use of the site by coaches, or whether the owner wishes to turn the area over to cars. Calls to a number for Bourton Vale Parking were not answered.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport has been part of early work to identify two possible alternatives to Bourton Vale for coaches.
Manager Wales and West John Burch says that businesses in the town recognise the contribution that coach passengers make, and that if parking is lost without replacement, the economic impact on Bourton-on-the-Water will be “astronomic.” He adds that during a site visit in late July, coach spaces were well occupied and that there is a risk of that trade being lost to other locations in the Cotswolds if a solution is not found.