Visitors to a popular nature reserve are calling for action to be taken quickly over its rapidly deteriorating main access road.
The track to the North Gare car park, off Tees Road on the outskirts of Seaton Carew, is almost impassable due to huge potholes around half way down.
The road, which is owned by Hartlepool Borough Council but has not been adopted, crosses the Seaton Common Local Nature Reserve and Site of Scientific Interest.
It also provides access to the Seaton Dunes and mouth of the River Tees area.
Geoff Hare, a retired nurse, of Kingsley Avenue, Hartlepool, visits the area twice a day to walk his dogs.
He said: “If you are trying to promote conservation and the countryside then access is paramount.”
Geoffrey Knowlson, also from Hartlepool, said: “I haven’t been down here for five or six years and I was shocked at the state of the road.”
Alan Bell, who works with people with disabilities, said: “It’s an absolutely gorgeous place, it is just coming in and going out that is the problem.”
The Friends of Teesmouth, Seaton Dunes and Common group says developer contributions from future house building should be used to help maintain the area.
Spokesman Robert Smith: “It is a magnet for visitors coming to enjoy the wildlife, extensive dune system, vast expanse of clean beach and magnificent views.
“Allowing the road to become impassable would be a false economy.
“If visitors are forced to use the alternative Zinc Works Road access, the result will be absolute chaos as parking down there is limited to a handful of spaces.
“It is accepted that Hartlepool council does not have the ready cash to undertake full repairs, but the next housing development application for the Seaton area could well provide funding by way of developer contributions.”
Mr Smith added it was vital the council repaired the worst section in the meantime and urged visitors to contact the local authority to voice their concerns.
A council spokesman said: “We acknowledge that this road, which is in council ownership but not adopted, is in a poor condition and we understand the concerns that have been expressed.
“Some repairs were carried out towards the end of last year and we hoped these would provide us with some breathing space whilst we tried to secure funds for more permanent improvements.
“Unfortunately, particularly heavy rain around that time meant that water poured off surrounding land and effectively washed away the repairs on the worst affected section of road.”
A recent funding application to the SITA Trust was unsuccessful but the council says it will continue to look for other sources.
Regarding the suggestion to secure funds through a legal agreement with a developer, the council added: “This is not an option as there is currently no scope to reach such an agreement.
“However, should new developments be proposed in the area then the possibility of securing a financial contribution towards the cost of a road improvement scheme could be explored at that time.”