NEW car parking charges are set to be introduced at Keyhaven to prevent campervans from staying for weeks at a time.
The changes will be subject to a public consultation, and would apply to the 25-35 spaces alongside a no-through road which crosses the Avon Water, near the yacht club.
Landowner New Forest District Council said the current arrangements for free parking in two gravel areas beside the road have led to regular complaints about campervans using the area for long periods.
In a council report, it was suggested the area described as “Keyhaven Short Stay Car Park” be amended to have a maximum waiting time of three hours with charges ranging from £1 for up to an hour to £4 for up to three hours.
It continued: “Recent issues of camper vans remaining there for long periods with the subsequent issues of litter and human detritus being left have been a source of regular complaints from residents and visitors to the area.”
Without the changes NFDC said its only option to remove vehicles from the land would be through a protracted court process.
However, it stated that under the proposed regime it will be able to “exert control over its land” and enable more vehicles to use the facilities by enforcing the three-hour waiting limit.
The recommended changes, which have been supported by NFDC cabinet member for planning and infrastructure Cllr Edward Heron, were also said to have been backed by parish, district and county councillors.
But Milford Parish Council clerk Graham Wells said the authority had not been formally approached about the proposals.
He added: “The major problem has far as we are concerned has been the campervans spending long periods of time in New Lane and Salt Grass Lane.
“We have not received many complaints about parking in this area – but I would welcome the news that this could go some way to resolving the problem of long-stay campervans.”
Cllr Tim Cowell, who represents Keyhaven on the parish council, said: “I think these charges are sadly necessary as the problem of parking up there has been increasing. It is a shame for local people who just want to pop down but I feel, reluctantly, that this is a good idea.”
However, Cllr Donald Darbishire felt NFDC should be doing more to enforce the existing four-hour waiting limit at the site.
He said: “It seems to me that NFDC have seen this an opportunity to slap some more parking charges on people visiting Keyhaven. It is a real shame for local people who just want to pop up there for a quick walk that they will no longer be able to use this area free of charge.”
Before any changes are made, the proposals will be subject to a public consultation and NFDC will also seek consent from Hampshire County Council as the highways authority.