Norfolk Archaeological Trust (NAT) are excited to let you know about our proposals to extend the car park and introduce car park charges at Caistor Roman Town. We want to give you the opportunity to comment on the proposed scheme, before we develop our ideas further.
We would be grateful if you could help us to learn how local people feel about these proposals by reading the contents of this letter and answering a brief survey (see enclosed). Once we have gathered the responses, we will review the responses and consult further with the parish council and other local representatives.
Norfolk Archaeological Trust’s conservation work
The Norfolk Archaeological Trust (NAT) www.norfarchtrust.org.uk is a small local charity which owns or manages 10 important archaeological sites in Norfolk, including Caistor Roman Town. We work with local communities to save Norfolk’s historic sites and to share them with everyone. We conserve and protect the historic structures and landscapes as well as the local wildlife such as plants and insects, and we provide information boards giving the history of each site.
The need for funding
Diminished funding and its effect on the standard of maintenance at our sites has forced us to consider car park charges at some of our locations, including Caistor Roman Town. We need to raise money urgently so that our sites continue to be protected, safe and accessible for visitors. This is explained in more detail below.
Improved car park management
Extending our existing car park (approximately 32 new spaces) will address the over-flow problems we currently experience – especially at the weekends and the summer months. We are also planning to create disabled spaces and install EV charging points.
Car park design
The extension of the car park will be to the south of the current car park, and will be at same depth from the road. The appearance will be similar to the current car park. The entrance will remain unchanged. We are obtaining crime prevention input from Norfolk Police in relation to the design.
Charging for parking
Charging for parking will also improve the management of the car parks for local users by reducing unofficial gatherings and anti-social behaviour in the evenings and by discouraging fly-tipping and littering.
How it will work
We plan to employ Napier Parking Ltd. who will install their own contactless card only pay machines and signage, as well as an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera at the main site entrance.
The suggested parking charges are:
Up to 1.5 hours – £2.00 Up to 3 hours – £3.00 All day – £5.00
The £2 for one and half hour charge is aimed at dog-walkers and local visitors who we hope will see this as a worthwhile donation. We think this charging structure represents a good balance, but would be interested in hearing of any alternatives which can be suggested.
There is also space for parking on the hard surfacing adjacent to the driveway leading to the church. This too will become subject to charging since otherwise we would risk simply encouraging parking there. While the land concerned does belong to the Trust, arrangements will be made to ensure that church users will not have to pay to park.
Funding for conservation
The Trust currently manages 10 sites in the county on a total budget of circa £88k. As much of our income comes from EU farm payments this has been very seriously reduced since 2021 and the new government support schemes will not make up for this.
The current funding schemes will be replaced by a new scheme (ELMS) from 2024, and it is expected that payments under this scheme will be lower. This means that since 2021 onwards our income has been reduced while our costs have seen big increases.
Advantages of the ANPR camera
We understand that some visitors might not like the idea of the ANPR camera. However, its installation would provide the following advantages:
- We can introduce an overnight closure and car owners who stay after the official closing time will be fined – thus reducing the number of cars parking at the site at night.
- Visitors committing anti-social behaviour will be discouraged from parking at the site. We have seen a positive reduction in anti-social behaviour at another one of our sites – Burgh Castle Fort since the introduction of ANPR camera.
- Fly-tipping will be discouraged
Enforcement of car park charges by the management company
We have been assured by Napier that every potential enforcement case is looked at by a person (i.e. fines notices are not automatically generated) and an assessment is made about whether non-payment was unintended – for example, if an incorrect car registration number was entered by mistake. The company follow up cases only where they are reasonably certain that non-payment was deliberate.
Our consulatation will be open for comments until 8th March 2023 – please fill it in and let us know your thoughts on our proposals here: https://forms.office.com/e/UgmnpnD6bZ