The sun is shining and new charges are welcomed as calm descends on the Saunton parking saga

New parking charges for Saunton beach have been welcomed on all sides.

Saunton Beach Enterprises was granted planning permission on Wednesday for an Automatic Number Plate Recognition camera and barrier system (ANPR).

Today (Monday) it has announced a revised tariff of parking charges which are very different to initial proposals that prompted so much community outrage.

The first 20 minutes at the beach will be free, then visitors will be charged £1 for the first hour, £2.50 for up to two hours, £4 for three and £7 all day during high season and £4 a day during low season.

Plans for a £50 locals discount scheme have been scrapped and season tickets will remain at £175 per year, the same as last year, with provision for up to four cars on one ticket.

Out of hours parking will be free, with charging starting at 9am and continuing until 3pm out of season, 6pm from March 16 to April 30 and September 1 to October 15. High season charging (May 1 to August 31) will run until 7.30pm.

Paul Tamlyn from Saunton Beach Enterprises, said: “We have talked to a lot of beach users since this process began and it was clear that there were some common themes.

“We’re optimistic that these revisions address people’s concerns and that people will finally see that actually car parking will be cheaper and more convenient for most with the new system.”

The system is expected to be installed in late spring.

At Wednesday’s planning meeting, councillors heard from Peter Robinson of Saunton Beach Action Group, who said 11,000 people had signed a petition objecting to the original plans and sent 473 letters of objection to the council.

Some councillors sympathised with the objectors but the meeting heard there was no planning reason to refuse the application.

The revised charges have been welcomed by members of the action group. Mr Robsinon said: “This is a great victory for people power. I’m delighted the car park operators have listened to our campaign and I hope we can all now work together to improve facilities at Saunton and help make it the jewel in the crown of North Devon that it should.

“Given where we started this is about the best result we could have hoped for and we’d like to thank SBE for taking on our concerns about pricing.”

* You can view the full details of the new Saunton parking plan here.