We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

"No change is not an option" as more changes to key City road links unveiled

July 23, 2016 10:12 AM

A month long consultation process starts on Monday about major changes for key routes into and out of Newcastle to the north. These affect Blue House on the Great North Road, the Jesmond Dene Road junctions with Moorfield and Osborne Road, the Haddricks Mill junctions and Killingworth Road as it goes north under the Metro line. These are amongst the worst places in the City for car accidents and injuries to cyclists. The work could take over 2 years in places, but is said to "future proof" major routes with the proposal of radical changes that will affect local people and through travellers.

Local Liberal Democrat councillors, who represent all the area, have complained that their local knowledge have been ignored so far as details were given to the media ahead of them and local people they serve.

First details can be found at

http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/revealed-see-20m-plans-haddricks-11649034 and there'll be a webpage for more details and feedback at www.newcastle.gov.uk/roads

Comments can also be submitted via roads@newcastle.gov.uk up to Sunday 21st August, and first reactions from Council officials are expected about a month later.

Council officials have arranged a series of drop-ins of which we know at the following local venues and times:

• Monday 25th July, 1pm to 7pm - Trinity Church, Gosforth High Street
• Tuesday 26th July, 1pm to 7pm - St Nicholas' Church Annex, South Gosforth
• Wednesday 27th July, 1pm to 7pm - Jesmond Library, St Georges Terrace, Jesmond
• Thursday 28th July, 1pm to 7pm - Trinity Community Centre, Freeman Road, South Gosforth
• Saturday 30th July, 10am to 2pm - Jesmond Library
• Saturday 6th August, 10am to 2pm - Trinity Church, Gosforth High Street
• Wednesday 10th August - Trinity Church, Gosforth High Street
• Thursday 11th August - 11am to 4pm - St Nicholas' Church Annex, South Gosforth
• Saturday 13th August - 10am to 2pm - Trinity Community Centre, Freeman Road, South Gosforth

Despite being on the drawing board for several years, council transport planners hastily arranged meetings to brief councillors this week, just before details of the scheme were published by the media.

Opposition Liberal Democrat councillors in the Gosforth, North Jesmond, High Heaton, and Benton Park Road areas of Newcastle expressed concern at Newcastle City Council's failure to seek feedback from local councillors and residents ahead of the unveiling of proposals for the Blue House-Haddricksmill corridor and junctions improvement plan next week. Lib Dem councillors representing communities likely to be affected by the works have long recognised that improvements to this congested route are necessary and desirable - doing nothing is not an option given increased traffic flows and housing developments - but feel that the council has so far missed an important opportunity to take account of local knowledge and concerns.

It emerged that the council had not made plans for a consultation event for Dene ward residents - including communities in High Heaton and the Benton Park Road area - with exhibition sessions being planned for Gosforth, South Gosforth, and Jesmond. Although workplace information sessions have been arranged for employees at the Freeman Hospital and Inland Revenue complex who commute to work through the junction, no session was planned for residents in the High Heaton and Four Lane Ends area. However, following pressure from Dene ward Lib Dem councillor Bob Renton, an event for residents has now been added to the schedule.

Cllr Renton said "I am concerned that we have been involved seemingly as an afterthought in what has been a planning process lasting many months. The last information we received was in December/January and we were advised we would be given more information as soon as possible and be able to give advice on how when and where our residents could be consulted and involved. I am very concerned local councillors have been kept out the loop until the very last minute and have not been allowed any input to the design process. We have already seen from North Tyneside council's recent remodelling of the Four Lane Ends junction the difficulties that can arise.

Cllr Henry Gallagher, Lib Dem councillor for East Gosforth said: "This is not about party politics, this is about our ability to use local knowledge to input into a major council decision affecting our community and to represent the interests of thousands of our constituents who will be affected by major work to remodel the junctions and associated closures of local roads. A great many affected residents will want to discuss issues arising from the plans with us and we will have only a few hours prior notice of what is proposed. We feel it would have been much better if the council had given us an earlier opportunity to identify local concerns over road closures and restrictions and to highlight local rat-running issues."

Cllr Greg Stone, who represents North Heaton ward and is Opposition spokesperson on transport, confirmed that no attempt had been made by the council to involve residents of the North Heaton ward area of High Heaton in invitations to the consultation sessions, despite many residents of the area using this junction as part of their daily travel.

He said "We have known that the council has been working on these plans for many months, and we recognise that this junction needs improvement. However, my requests to the senior council transport officer for a briefing for the Opposition group and for more information on consultation plans, most recently in March this year, have not been acted upon. I'm afraid this is further evidence of a secretive and uncommunicative council administration who are unwilling to grant the basic courtesy of a pre-briefing to Opposition members or to even inform residents of my ward who use the junction daily that changes are planned and consultation is taking place. The council needs to do far better as this is simply not good enough."

In a letter to local homes, Council highways engineers have said :

The City Council has secured funding from a range of sources to address longstanding problems on our road network. This money cannot be spent on other public services and is focused on addressing issues of road safety, congestion, and resilience on our highways network between the Cowgate and Haddricks Mill junctions, via the Blue House roundabout. These changes are linked to those further north such as our work at the Church Road - Salters Road junction.

With the exception of some further improvements to traffic light timings we have completed the delivery of the Cowgate junction, and are currently working on the junction at Grandstand Road and Kenton Road. Following an appraisal of many options we have developed plans to make changes at the final major junctions on the east - west corridor at the Blue House roundabout on the Great North Road, the junctions off Jesmond Dene Road with Osborne Road and Moorfield, and at the Haddricks Mill double roundabout in South Gosforth.

The need for improvements at these locations have been recognised for a number of years including within statutory planning documents and the city's recognised plans for growth. Further, both Blue House and Haddricks Mill are among the worst in the city for injuries to people caused by road traffic collisions and are the worst for injuries to people on bikes. As such, the engagement period will be focused on gathering your views of the designs we are putting forward, not whether or not you support the principle of making changes at these locations.