Gosforth eFocus 46 - mainly on the streets

January 11, 2016 10:20 PM


GOSFORTH HIGH STREET
As work restarts at the Salters Road car park, more announcements about traffic management changes on the High Street fairly soon. We continue to be concerned that the City Council hasn't been listening to concerns - we want the High Street to be a greener, safer and better place to meet, to shop and to access locals services, however you get there.
We've been listening to residents with concerns about managing a road space for cyclists shared with bus access and parking (and know some whom prefer the current Moor Road North route bypassing the High Street, especially now the new lights at Church Road are in operation) Traders have told us that a Red Route will disadvantage their businesses, so a scheme aimed at facilitating the movement of traffic into the City Centre makes things worse for them. And that's before the impact of the roadworks for months on end which are likely to deter the casual shopper.
You've told us that more decisions about Gosforth should be made in Gosforth by those elected to serve the area, in consultation with residents, rather than by an out-of-touch, top-down Civic Centre. We can only agree with you.


MELTON PARK CARE HOME LATEST
Residents have been concerned about overspill car parking from the new Care Home. The Home is close to opening - a visit by the Quality Care Commission is expected this week. There has been a number of complaints about "overspill" car parking. We are being told that once the construction has been completed, the traffic associated with it will clear, and so the parking impact will fade away. We shall see!


MORE CYCLEWAYS - CONSULTATION ON GREAT NORTH ROAD PART 3…
The link between Broadway and Brunton Lane in Gosforth now being consulted on forms Cycle Route 4 of the cross-city cycle network. It also forms part of the Great North Cycleway, a regional route linking Darlington to Blyth. The funding has come direct from Government, and can only be spent on this and other schemes for people on foot and on bikes.
The proposed changes from Broadway to Brunton Lane include:
• significant highways improvements for people on bikes including, where possible, dedicated with-flow cycle-track, separated from roads by new kerbs or grass verge
• improvements to the signals at the junction at Brunton Lane
• the installation of new crossings and the upgrading of existing ones for people on foot and on bikes
• improvements to public transport facilities, particularly at existing bus stops
• a reduction in the speed limit from 40 mph to 30 mph
These proposals will also link into the construction of Route 4 between Brunton Lane and Sandy Lane. This is part of a second stage of development in the future including the widening of Sandy Lane, being taken forward by North Tyneside Council, but the two schemes are interlinked.
Full information about the plans is available at www.newcastle.gov.uk/cr4broadwaybrunton.
And we'd also like to hear what you think even though the formal consultation period is over. . You can also email comments to cr4broadwaybrunton@newcastle.gov.uk
One possibility we have mooted is the replacement of the footbridge at the Three Mile Inn with a ground level controlled crossing. What do you think of that idea?

BUS STOPS AND CYCLEWAYS
All the Cycle Ambition Cities, plus Transport for London, are currently drawing up case studies on bus stop treatments and we're told that "hopefully the outcome will be a set of best practice guidelines." But we've already had major changes implemented. So we asked the question again - answer below. It seems we're a guinea pig! We'd welcome your opinion.
The area behind the north bound bus stop closest to Broadway roundabout is not a shared surface it is a segregated cycle track and footway. This is obviously the preferable solution but is only an option where the pavement is wide enough (i.e. over 3.5m).

The question of material choice within a shared surface 'bus stop bypass' has been debated at length and there appears to be no answer that satisfies all interested parties - and there are no national standards or specifications to follow.

If it's accepted that a change in material is required through the bus stop then the choice is a difficult one. Should it look different from the adjacent footway? Should it give a consistent message to both pedestrians and cyclists? A bespoke material such as red macadam has been ruled out on the grounds of long term maintenance so the basic choice is between black macadam and concrete flags. Different cities are trying different things and there is an element of experimentation going on.

On the Great North Road where the footway is flagged, one solution is to provide black macadam behind the bus stop (e.g. near the doctors' surgery). The trouble with this is that it looks more like a continuation of the cycle track and less like a shared area - arguably resulting in increased potential for conflict. If the flagged surface is maintained through the bus stop it does send a message to cyclists that they entering more of a pedestrian environment and encourages them to slow down, however, it doesn't give the impression to pedestrians that the area is any different to the adjacent footway.

Newcastle City Council has been monitoring the use of the bus stop bypasses and it would appear that the flagged solution has greater success in slowing down cyclists as there is a change in surface material for them if not for pedestrians. If the existing footway is 'blacktop' then the provision of flags behind a bus stop would achieve the desirable visual cue and contrast.

BRUNTON BRIDGE CLOSURE DEFERRED
A-One+ had intended to close the Brunton Lane A1 overbridge to facilitate a safe working area for the A-One+ operatives undertaking maintenance to the bridge deck this month.

However A-One+ have now confirmed that they are unfortunately unable to proceed at this time, and have postponed the works until later in the year. At present, they do not have any firm dates but as and when we have this information we'll post again.

Unfortunately the road width on the bridge is too narrow to safely enable vehicles to pass during these works and as such the road is required to be closed to all vehicles. However both pedestrians and dismounted cyclists will be permitted through. This closure would therefore primarily affect the Q3 bus and the small number of residents permitted to drive through the bus gate to houses on old Brunton Lane.

GREAT PARK CONSORTIUM
In a recent message to councillors, director David Abercrombie wrote :
It has been a year since I took up the post and I hope that by engaging with groups and organisations we have taken a huge step forward. We may disagree on certain matters but at the same time I want to be open and honest and will always respond to calls, emails or as a result of queries via the new website. I want to continue and expand this engagement in 2016 and really demonstrate that we are working openly and honestly with the resources that exist. We have much to do to circulate plans and documents to help residents understand roles and responsibilities on the Park and this is a priority for early 2016. As is often the case, the lack of information leads to rumours and incorrect information being circulated and again we all need to improve this in 2016. I am at the end of the phone or email if you or residents have queries and although only a very small office and team we will respond and happy to meet groups or individuals.

This year will be a busy one with much planned in terms of delivery of Strategic Open Space, Strategic Routes, Play Areas and work starting on the Town Centre. There will be a number of consultation events and I will continue with the monthly drop in sessions on the third Thursday of every month but at the same time propose to extend these into the evenings at the request of some residents

GRANTS AND LOANS AVAILABLE FOR HOMEOWNERS AND LANDLORDS
Loans are available for homeowners in Newcastle who have financial difficulties and whose property is in need of essential repairs. They equity loans so there are no repayments to make unless the owner sells the property or it is inherited by others. The loans are from £500 up to £15,000.
There's also financial assistance in terms of a grant or loan or both to anyone in Newcastle who owns a property that has been empty at least 6 months and up to 5 years of up to £2,000, over five years up to £5,000 and over 10 years up to £10,000.00 The City Council can also offer loans of up to £15,000 at 0% interest and repayable over 7 years. For any further information contact Kevin Ward, Home Improvement Officer, Newcastle City Council. Tel: 0191 277 7864 or email: kevin.ward@newcastle.gov.uk

"ROAD TO NOWHERE" PROPOSAL

North Tyneside Council has submitted a planning application to itself to build a new access road from the A1056 (Sandy Lane) to link to a proposed new business park to the north, on land which is also owned by the council (can you spot the conflict of interest?). The road would be built on farmland.
There is currently no plan (or master plan) for the business park, which already has one access route from Sandy Lane so the new access road would effectively be a "road to nowhere" and without a master plan it is impossible to know whether a road in that location is needed or how it might impact on plans to retain wildlife corridors through the site.
Even the council admits it is pre-emptive, their own report states: "The creation of a new entrance into the Sandy Lane industrial estate with a view to pre- empting access to the future Indigo Park development".
Even more astoundingly the ecological/planning reports have failed to acknowledge that this is a wildlife corridor and thus how the development might impact upon it.


POACHERS KILLING GOSFORTH WILDLIFE
Poachers are operating in the Gosforth Park/Weetslade area. A roe deer was found butchered on Heathery Lane and reports of poachers have been made for a year now. The poachers are almost certainly hunting with dogs which is cruel as well as being illegal, snares have also been found. These people are not hunting because they need food but for sport. Gosforth Park Nature Reserve was established to provide a refuge for wildlife on the edge of the city and it is illegal to hunt wild animals in this area.
Please be vigilant for people who are acting suspiciously or who you believe may be poachers and report them to the Natural History Society of Northumbria 0191 208 2790 or Northumbria Police on 101.