HOPES of extending the village car park in Corbridge have taken a major step forward with a £340,000 cash injection.

The money was agreed by Northumberland County Council's cabinet as part of a £385,000 package of improvements which will also see designs drawn up for improvements at car parks in Morpeth and Berwick.

The funding will be used to improve on-street car parking in Corbridge, as agreed with parish councillors, on Hill Street, Main Street, Watling Street and Station Road.

It's hoped a review of the key spaces will help identify additional short-stay spaces in the village centre while the extension of the village car park, based near allotment land on the south side of Corbridge bridge, will create 48 extra long-stay spaces.

County councillor for Corbridge, Nick Oliver, said: "It was quite clear to me when I stood for election as county councillor that creating additional car parking was a priority for Corbridge and this will become increasingly important with 180 new houses on the Milkwell development.

"I have made this a priority for my first year in office. I'm delighted that this significant capital investment has been allocated and look forward to seeing work start."

The work, which is expected to be completed by the spring, will relieve some of the pressure on parking experienced daily by residents, traders and visitors.

Coun. Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services, said: "Our towns are growing, and population, visitor numbers and car ownership rates are steadily rising.

"We are very aware of car parking issues in parts of the county and recognise that significant investment is required to address the issues so that we have enough spaces, in the right places, with clear signage to make it easier and more convenient for people coming into our towns to shop, do business or visit.

"We have developed detailed parking action plans for key towns and have listened very carefully to local views. We are now in a position to progress implementation of a number of the proposals and the funding that has been agreed is a key part of the process."

Last year detailed parking studies were also commissioned by the council to develop options to improve car parking in Hexham and Alnwick.

The report relating to Hexham recommends the creation of at least 250 extra long-stay spaces and outlines how the current estimated 2,690 spaces across 19 parking areas in the town are used.

Money made available for the work in Corbridge is being released from an existing £10m provision for parking in the council's existing medium term financial plan.