BRIDPORT: A new car park in West Bay has caused controversy since it opened its gates to vehicles in a location that opposition campaigners say is a Site of Nature Conservacy Interest.

The location of the newly created Brit Valley Car Park, in a field adjacent to West Bay Road, Bridport, is opposite to the Meadowlands housing estate entrance.

The car park was constructed at the end of July and first used on August 3 when over 300 vehicles were counted in.

West Dorset District Council also installed large metal signs which have been concreted in, along with a parking charging machine placed in the middle of the field.

Cllr Ros Kayes, left, who was one of those contacted by concerned residents, said: “I understand that while councillors from adjacent wards were contacted, elected members from Bridport South were not, and neither was I as county councillor. I understand that WDDC felt that the combination of filming for Broadchurch and West Bay Day rendered this necessary, but residents have undertaken a survey that shows the car park was only needed as an overflow on West Bay day.

“I share their concerns. I wonder how long it will take West Dorset District Council to realise that residents in West Bay and also Bridport Town Council prefer to be consulted.

“We have a rerun again of the lack of communication with residents and businesses over the power boat race, this year’s inflatable castle/slide on the harbourside and worst, the pinch point.

“The idea of this field being used as a temporary car park each year needs to be properly explored through the planning system. And if the field is an area of natural interest, then clearly the wrong space has been chosen.”

Gillian Summers, town and district councillor, said: “The temporary car park was in the field opposite the Spar shop in West Bay Road and used in 2013 by West Bay Day (RNLI) for one day and there were no complaints from neighbours. It was intended to do the same this year for one day only, but when our parking department heard about it they thought it was the perfect solution to the problems of finding extra parking on very busy days and also to help with accommodating the Broadchurch film crew during their visits here. “They carried out a one-month exercise to look at the possibility of having a pop-up car park in this field every summer. Obviously as this was for a trial period of less than 28 days planning permission was not sought, but now that it has been researched properly a planning application is being drawn up, and will go forward in the usual way.”

A complaint has been made to the Local Government Ombudsman and campaigners are asking local people to make their views known on West Dorset’s planning application online under the application number WD/D/14/001958.