Will new lease mean a new surface for this pothole-riddled carpark?
- Credit: Daniel Hickey
A carpark riddled with potholes in the heart of Aylsham could finally see a new surface - but residents hope the facility remains free of charge.
Buttlands, off Mill Road, is operated by Broadland District Council (BDC) who lease the site from the National Trust on a rolling six-month contract.
According to Sue Lake, Aylsham Town Council clerk, the short-term nature of the lease means the carpark is "not maintained very well".
Large potholes disturb the surface, while verges originally planted with grass are now used as ad-hoc parking spaces.
"Without a longer lease, BDC is unlikely to do anything substantial," Ms Lake said.
"We would like it to be properly resurfaced, the vegetation cut back, electric vehicle charge points installed, and that it remains free of charge."
BDC is currently in negotiations with the National Trust to agree a new lease.
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A spokesperson said the district council is "keen to invest" in the carpark and that some interim repairs have been made.
"We recognise that a complete resurface is required and look forward to completing these works once a new the lease is agreed.
"Our first priority is in agreeing a new lease with the National Trust. Any subsequent decision on introducing parking charges would be taken by BDC councillors at a later date," the spokesperson added.
On Wednesday morning (May 25), the carpark was full.
Lisa Berwick, 54, from Aylsham, said: "It just needs to see a general resurfacing. Especially in winter, when it gets iced over, it's dangerous for people walking and in cars as well."
Susan Mather, 66, from Oulton, said the carpark should remain free.
"If you go to places like Cromer or Holt, you have to pay for parking, but it discriminates against the villages who have to come into Aylsham anyway. You're being charged for an additional service.
"People would start parking on the surrounding streets. It's the knock-on effect," she said.
Another woman said: "The potholes need filling up, but somebody has to pay for it, that's the problem.
"It would be a shame if they charged but not many carparks are free these days."
Neil Walter, 62, from Haveringland, said the grass verges could be tarred over and turned into parking spaces.
History of Buttlands
The carpark sits on land known either as the Buttsland or Buttlands. It was once a narrow strip of grass stretching from Cawston Road to Mill Road.
'A History of Aylsham', by John Sapwell, states that in the 14th century the men of the town used the land to practice shooting the long bow.
This is how the area got its name, as the archers shot at butts, which were banks of turf.
After bows were superseded by firearms, the land was preserved as an open space for the town.
Residents would gather there for town fairs. A fancy dress party was held there during the Queen's coronation in 1952.
It became a carpark in the 1970s.
According to a National Trust spokesperson, the original lease for the carpark expired at a point when Broadland Council and South Norfolk Councils were in talks about a merger.
Since that point the National Trust has continued to lease the car park to the council on a short term basis.