Council welcomes residents input into Blue House junction proposals

Proposals for Blue House roundabout have reached a new milestone as Newcastle City Council considers recommendations from local residents and interest groups on the future of the Gosforth junction.

Following public backlash to a consultation in July 2016 to expand the junction on to Town Moor land, the council invited campaigners to work with them to develop alternative proposals.

The recommendations are based on a year-long process, with workshops held with community members and overseen by an independent specialist transport planner.

The council will review them before a formal decision is made.

Cllr Arlene Ainsley, Cabinet Member for Transport and Air Quality said: “I would like to thank the Blue House Working Group for their valuable contributions in collaborating with us on a design for this dangerous junction.

“Blue House roundabout has an appalling safety record that we need to address for the thousands of people who use this junction every day, as well as making it safer and greener for the people who live nearby.

“This is a major junction on a key route into the city centre, which is nestled between the Town Moor and local homes so balancing everyone’s needs in fixing this junction is a complex task.

“I welcome the recommendations from the group and once we have reviewed them, we will make a formal announcement on the future of this notorious junction.”

Built in the 1950’s, the junction’s poor layout and design has resulted in it being a well-known collision hotspot. Over 30,000 vehicles use the junction daily, which suffers from high levels of congestion with queuing on all approaches during peak hours, causing toxic levels of air pollution.

The council has worked with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership to secure over £20m to improve a series of junctions and roads across the north of the city including Cowgate, Blue House, Haddricks Mill double roundabout in South Gosforth and widening the pinchpoint on Killingworth Road.

Independent Chair, John Dales, who facilitated the group’s work said: “I have enjoyed working with the Blue House Working Group. There were, of course, some differences of opinion between group members, and some important questions that are hard to answer, especially to everyone’s satisfaction. With so many issues at stake, and so little certainty about future traffic growth, there simply isn’t a single ‘right answer’. It will be the Council’s role to consider what action is now taken.

“The approach to change that I am recommending, based on the group’s work, is one that tackles the pressing safety issues, sits largely within the existing footprint of the current junction, and will improve conditions for travel by bus, on foot, and by bike.

“These improvements, which will enable local people to leave their cars at home for shorter journeys, will be vital in limiting traffic growth; thereby giving them a direct role in preserving the Town Moor they have fought so hard to save.

“If we manage to reduce the number of vehicles using the junction, especially for short trips, then this solution may last for many years to come. In essence, the group has agreed that it is wiser to try and reduce motor traffic growth than invest in a junction layout that would make growth more likely.”

Recommendations

The recommendations highlight both that current peak traffic flows through the junction are around 10% lower than ten years ago, and that there are important questions about the reliability of the official national predictions of future traffic growth on which the 2016 proposal was based.

The Blue House Working Group believes that, by making walking, cycling and bus travel more attractive, many residents will be influenced by the incentives to change their travel mode on shorter local journeys created by the new design.

Proposal sits within existing roundabout footprint

While the proposed junction layout sits within the existing roundabout footprint, it is designed in such a way that it could be enlarged, should the impact on air quality or motor traffic levels through the junction increase sufficiently to make that necessary.

The recommendations propose that, should the junction need to be enlarged, the historic avenues of trees would be protected, and any land take from Town Moor minimised, were the now-empty Blue House building to be demolished to make room for an enlarged junction.

Council to review recommendations

Newcastle City Council will review the recommendations to ensure it fits with the council’s priorities and meets Government funding requirements. A final decision will be made in early 2018, and if approved a public consultation will follow.

The above news release was issued by Newcastle City Council and included on the Newcastle City Council website. It has been included here for information and does not necessarily represent the views of High West Jesmond Residents’ Association.

HWJRA Chair comments

Recommendation Drawing A – Modified Blue House Roundabout and walk / cycle facilities

Nick Moore from High West Jesmond Residents’ Association said; “My experience of participating in the Blue House Working Group has been a very positive one.

“The final proposal reflects what the group believes is the “best fit” taking into account the key considerations of safety, capacity, efficiency and visual amenity. It was clearly impossible to provide everything that everybody wanted but by the end of the process the group were all happy with the final recommendation.

“I am very happy that the council took the approach that they did and hope that this can become a model for engagement with local residents and other stakeholders for any future projects of major significance.”

Streets for People: Proposal to change road layout at Moorfield/Ilford Road

The council have today opened consultation on a series of proposals to make changes to streets in the Jesmond and High West Jesmond area as part of the Streets for People initiative.

The proposals are aimed at improving provision for pedestrians and cyclists throughout the area.

One of the proposals involves redesigning the junction of Ilford Road and Moorfield as well as adding a cycle lane, relaying pathway and narrowing the main carriageway on Moorfield.

The outline plans can be viewed following the Moorfield Information Sheet link below and further detail can be found at the information stand in Jesmond library and also the Streets for People website streetsforpeople.org.uk/jesmond

Take part in the consultation process

The proposed changes would have a significant impact on Moorfield so HWJRA would strongly encourage all local residents – and particularly those who live on or close to Moorfield – to take a close look at the plans and to participate in the consultation programme that the council has opened up.

You can feed back your thoughts on the proposal anytime up until 30 November 2017 via the Streets for People website or by completing a questionnaire at Jesmond Library.

Meeting for HWJ residents

We plan to arrange a meeting for local residents so that the Residents Association can gauge local opinion on this proposal and submit our own response to the council which would be in addition to responses from individual residents.

Come along to the residents meeting which will take place in the main room at Jesmond Library, St George’s Terrace, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 2DL on Monday 13 November 2017 at 18:30 where you can find out more and let us know your views.

Proposal C – Moorfield and Ilford Road junction

This part of the neighbourhood plan proposes changes to Moorfield between Ilford Road and Great North Road (i.e. Gosforth High Street).

Read a summary of the proposal in the Moorfield Information Sheet:

Detailed drawings for the three different sections of Moorfield that would be changed can be downloaded by clicking on the links below.

1. Moorfield, between junction with Ilford Road and Kingswood Avenue

2. Moorfield, between Kingswood Avenue and Lodore Road 

3.  Moorfield, between Lodore Road and Great North Road

And you can read more information on the Streets for People website.

Streets for People information

You can read more of the background to the Streets for People initative on our Streets for People page.

NO COMMUNAL BINS IN HIGH WEST JESMOND…. at least for the moment!

Following a campaign from the HWJRA, including support from our local MP Catherine McKinnell and our local councillor Henry Gallagher, we are delighted to report that Newcastle council have confirmed they have no plans to introduce communal bins in High West Jesmond in this financial year and, in all likelihood, next financial year as well.

Below is an e-mail we have received from Catherine McKinnell;

Following my attendance at last week’s HWJRA public meeting, I had a productive meeting with Christine Herriot and members of her team on Thursday. ….I made very clear during my meeting with the Council last week the strength of opposition to, and concerns about, any roll-out of communal bins in High West Jesmond….the Council have confirmed to me that they now have no current plans to roll out communal bins to any part of Newcastle North, including East Gosforth ward and therefore High West Jesmond. I understand from my meeting last week that this applies to the years 2017/18 and 2018/19 – and, whilst the Council is not in a position to rule out any proposals indefinitely, I will clearly keep a close watching brief on this issue”.

 

The Dene and South Gosforth ward Liberal Democrats also posted this message yesterday;

“We’ve received confirmation that the communal bin roll-out to High West Jesmond has been halted for this and probably the next financial year. This is great news for the residents who fought the proposal. Our own ballot of residents showed that 95% of households were against the plan. Well done to the High West Jesmond Residents Association for all their hard work campaigning. We will of course keep an eye on the situation as time goes on.”

HWJRA would like to thank both Catherine and Henry for their support, as well as all HWJ residents who wrote to the council or attended meetings to make their feelings known on this issue.