A trial allowing motorhome users to sleep overnight in some car parks in the South Hams could be expanded after more than 1,400 stays were recorded in the first year.
By Johanna Carr www.bbc.co.uk
The district council set up the scheme in five of its car parks in June 2021 after an influx of visitors following the pandemic.
Councillors wanted to encourage people to visit and spend money in the area.
The council said the trial brought in £14,010 in additional income in a year.
Councillor Keith Baldry said: “It’s been very successful. We’re not doing it to make money, we just wanted to break even… but we have made a small amount of profit over the last 12 months and we’ve had a great deal of praise from users of the service.”
Self-contained motorhomes can stay for up to 48 hours in the car parks including in the Dartmouth park and ride
The five car parks included in the trial are Longmarsh in Totnes, the Dartmouth park and ride, Cattlemarket, Kingsbridge, Poundwell Meadow, Modbury and Leonards Road in Ivybridge, with the Totnes site on the banks of the River Dart being by far the most popular.
It costs £10 to stay the night, plus additional charges for daytime parking and all vehicles must be self-contained with washing and toilet facilities.
Mr Baldry, the executive member whose responsibilities include car parks, said business owners were “very happy” with the trial and the council had “no complaints from residents at all”.
He said some users of the service had complained about having to have their own toilet facilities on board, while others were keen to see the scheme expanded to include other car parks owned by the council.
The Liberal Democrat councillor added: “We decided we wanted to encourage visitors who have properly equipped motorhomes… but it also allows us to enforce stopping people who haven’t got those facilities who frankly were being very anti-social, using the hedges and so on as lavatory facilities.”
Arens Sorensen, a motorhome owner who has used the Totnes car park several times, said: “When you stay for a day or two of course you spend more than if you’re just here for a few hours so I guess it is good for the businesses.”
He said it was also cheaper than staying at a campsite, adding: “For us it’s ideal… I think it would be a great idea if there is more car parks like this.”
Other car park users had mixed views on the scheme.
One woman said she thought it was “amazing” and a Totnes resident added he hoped it would make a beautiful area more accessible.
A couple from the town said they thought motorhomes should go in a “proper caravan park” and were worried about the car parks become too busy.
Another man said: “If they are car parks rather than proper motorhome places then there is going to be a problem with hygiene.”
At the end of the summer, South Hams councillors will decide whether to carry on with the trial, make it permanent or even extend it to other car parks in the area.
Overnight stays – June 2021 to June 2022
Park and Ride, Dartmouth – 239
Cattlemarket, Kingsbridge – 129
Poundwell Meadow, Modbury – 51
Leonards Road, Ivybridge – 48
Total = 1,401 overnight stays
£14,010 in additional income for the council