They’re all around the village, motorhomes skulking in their owners’ drives, or tucked carefully away in unobtrusive corners, just waiting for an adventure throughout the country, over to Ireland, or east and with luck this year, anywhere on the continent. Similarly, there are motorhomes up and down the country, in villages and towns from Scotland to the Isle of Wight, just waiting to travel. And some of them, undoubtedly, will be visitors to Allendale. This diary entry is all about possible ways to deal with an influx of motorhomes during the tourist season, of which the prime question is: where will they park? And when they park, will there be room for normal domestic vehicles as well?
Every attractive rural village throughout the country is probably going to have to deal with the matter of motorhomes, at some point over the next few years. On the continent, in Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and in Eire, there is a strategy for dealing with visitors in their vans, but in England, not so much really.
Perhaps that’s not fair — there are a few motorhome service points, (or ‘aires’ as they’re called in France) in England, but they really are few and far between. The fact is, however, motorhome touring life is becoming a fact of life, for lots of folks throughout the country, and where they go is up to them, of course, but their choice of destination is often affected by whether free parking, or pay-for-service parking, or paid parking is available. And that availability is often a matter for private enterprises, and only very infrequently the question is dealt with by parish councils. Most UK-based tourers, I guess, tend to tour from and to registered campsites, but the frequency of ad hoc night-time stopovers is increasing everywhere, and certainly that’s true in Allendale itself.
So far, parking in the triangle in front of the Allendale Inn and The Forge has seemed to be a reasonable motorhome space, but it can be quickly subsumed by locals and only occasionally available to tourers from outside. But much of the roadside parking on the Allenheads road that used to exist, before the Pelican Crossing was installed last autumn, is no more, so what will that loss mean to motorhome tourers in this coming tourist season?
The challenge, if and when ad hoc parking gets out of hand (it’s not yet, I think, just possibly becoming more significant this year) and I’ve investigated this issue reasonably thoroughly (see Motorhome Service Point Construction Guide) . . . if an entrepreneur or public body dealing with such a challenge wishes to actively welcome rather than ban or ignore motorhome tourers, for example, who on the whole can be a boost to the local economy, then their challenge is to develop a special space for which motorhome tourers will not mind paying a nominal fee. And that’s a really tricky proposition — motorhome tourers are notoriously tight, preferring to park for free if they can, safely. They only have to take on water and dispose of waste every two or three days, after all, and most now carry sufficient solar panels, leisure batteries and inverters to produce their own electricity.
Careful perusal of the guide noted above would suggest that the only way to develop a useful, low-maintenance service point that brings in revenue, is to have a nominal parking fee (perhaps £5/night) with free water and waste services (no electrical hook-up), that is attractive to tourers (they won’t pay to park if the site is a dump unless it’s a municipal area with other attractions, like Amsterdam’s municipal motorhome parking centre near to the free ferry connection to the main train/bus/trolley terminal). And the best way to elicit payment for tourer parking in a rural setting is to invest in a reasonably secure parking area overlooking some sort of water feature. They won’t pay for much less, but will try to find a lay-by on down the road nearby, if they really want to stay in the area.
Alternatively, if parking should become more congested in Allendale because of motorhome tourists than we can accommodate conveniently, then another arrangement could be to create some free designated parking places for the tourist vans, while restricting their parking anywhere else. But those free spaces would decrease local parking access, of course. The challenge begins to seem more ominous the harder one looks at it!
Looking at this challenge from the joint perspectives of motorhome tourers ourselves and as residents here who park nearly daily in the square, even though we live up on the Sparty Lea fellside, it’s tempting to think that the best way to see a motorhome service point developed in the Allendale area, within walking distance to the village centre, is through a private entrepreneur. The service point would require some capital investment, but only minimal licensing, apparently, depending on the grace of the Parish Council in the planning area.
But this is future-thinking that may only be just an exercise — becoming aware that a challenge could be developing, working towards a strategy to cope with it if it does arise, but hoping meanwhile that the friendly status quo will carry on as it’s always done, and that everybody will still be happy. Sounds like a plan to me.