Residents invited to Blue House Recommendations meeting on 12 March

John Dales, the Independent Chair of Blue House Working Group, is inviting local residents and other stakeholders to a meeting to find out more about the Group’s recommendations about the Blue House junction and the principles that underpin them.

John will be introducing the proposals and answering questions, members of the Working Group will also be speaking about their experience of developing the proposal during their time on the group and answering questions.

You can find out more about the Working Group, read meeting notes and background papers and read the recommendations on the group’s web site.

HWJRA has represented residents

High West Jesmond Residents’ Association (HWJRA) has represented residents’ concerns and has been one of the local community groups that has contributed to the Blue House Working Group discussions on the Blue House Roundabout.

We encourage residents from High West Jesmond to attend this meeting to hear more about the recommendations made by Blue House Working Group to Newcastle City council.

Read:  Council welcomes residents input into Blue House proposals

Meeting details and book via Eventbrite

The meeting will be held on Monday 12 March 2018

Time: 18:30 – 20:30

Venue: Newcastle School for Boys (Senior School Hall), 34 The Grove, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 1NH.

Book your tickets via Eventbrite at this link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/blue-house-working-group-recommendations-tickets-43594377958?utm_term=eventurl_text

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.”

Blue House Working Group makes recommendations

Recommendations from the Blue House Working Group have been issued for consideration by Newcastle City Council.

The following news release has been issued by the Blue House Working Group:

The Blue House roundabout, High West Jesmond, Newcastle

The thoughtful and constructive contributions of the Blue House Roundabout Working Group members, has helped the independent chair of the group, John Dales, to come to a recommendation for Newcastle City Council.

That recommendation and the rationale that underpins it is set out below.

Recommendation from Blue House Working Group

Click here to download the recommendation from the Working Group in PDF format.

Position Statement from Blue House Working Group

Click here to download the position statement from the Working Group in PDF format.

Drawing A shows the change recommended

Drawings A and B, below, set out the scope of change recommended at the Blue House junction in the immediate future (A), and how this could be further built upon in the future to increase traffic capacity (B).

These layouts have arisen from an iterative design process involving scrutiny by the Working Group and traffic modelling to understand capacity issues.

Further modelling work is now needed to develop a detailed design and ensure that change at Blue House does as much as possible to improve road safety and enable walking, cycling and bus travel, while providing sufficient capacity for general traffic.

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

Click here to download Drawing A in PDF format.

Recommendation Drawing B – how Blue House Roundabout could be further enlarged in the future

Click here to download Drawing B in PDF format.

Jesmond Dene Road changes

In addition, Drawing C sets out the recommended changes for Jesmond Dene Road as far as the junction with Matthew Bank. The layout allows vehicles to make all turns at the Osborne Road junction, and includes a new signalised pedestrian crossing facility across the Osborne Road arm.

To provide a better level of service for people walking, the signalised junction with Moorfield should be modified and a new, signalised walking/cycling crossing should be installed just west of the Friday Fields path. Protected tracks and other measures to enable cycling are also recommended.

Drawing C – Jesmond Dene Road / Moorfield

Click here to download Drawing C in PDF format.

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

HWJRA Chair comments

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.”

Public meeting planned

 
A public meeting will be organised to discuss the recommendations at some time in February – further details to follow.
 

Background reading

 
You can read the response from Newcastle City Council here – Council welcomes residents input into Blue House junction proposals

 

1964 – The Great North Road (the old A1)

More nostalgia, a quiet day on the old A1, Great North Road in June 1964 before the Civic Centre was fully completed.

A heritage posting from Chris Morgan

Great North Road, Newcastle, looking south from end of Moorfield, 1964

Little Moor on left, Dukes Moor on right.

Blue House corner ahead, then the Town Moor proper.

Before yellow lines and red routes, police notice in blue ‘No parking in roadway’ was enough.

Before the Civic Centre, just visible in the distance, had received it’s carilion topping.

Before the A1 had been bypassed, first to the east through the Tyne Tunnel (now the A19), then to the west.

And only just after the trolley bus wires had been removed from the old tram poles.

Killingworth Road project update

Metro reopened but gas mains work now starting with road closed until spring 2018

The following article has been written by Newcastle City council:

The £13.5m project will see Killingworth Road widened to reduce congestion, improve air quality, provide more efficient bus routes and make it easier and safer for people on bikes and on foot.

The first stage of works, including the replacement of the 100-year-old Metro bridge and track renewal by Nexus has been completed on schedule and Metro services have resumed.

Killingworth Road will remain closed to all traffic until spring 2018 to enable the next phase of the works – the re-location of gas mains – to be carried out.

Full details on the scheme are at newcastle.gov.uk/killingworth

 

“Mitigation measures – you said, we listened”.

Together with neighbouring councils, Nexus, bus operators and other partners we have put in place a series of measures to help keep the surrounding roads moving during the closure.

These measures are kept under review to ensure they are working effectively and to take into account feedback from residents and businesses.

In response to traffic monitoring and your feedback we are making some changes:

1. We are removing the temporary bus lane from the Brunton Bridge flyover.

We had a lot of feedback about this and our monitoring has shown that it is not having the desired effect in terms of helping traffic flows through the area.

Although it was worthwhile trying this measure during the summer holidays, in response to feedback and traffic monitoring, we have decided to remove this bus lane to coincide with the start of the new school term in September.

2. We have made changes to diversion signage and signal timings.

In response to your feedback we’ve changed the signage for the banned right turn into Salters Road, from the Great North Road, and signage at Goathland Avenue, Benton Road, Benton Lane and Hollywood Avenue.

We’ve also changed traffic signal timings at the West Farm Avenue junction with Salters Lane, the Goathland Avenue junction with Benton Lane and at Four Lane Ends.

3. We are funding more bike trains to and from the main work places.

The bike trains will run by Bike 4 Health during the weeks commencing September 11, 18 and 25.

Sign up sessions are taking place this week at HMRC, Freeman Hospital, BT, YHN and the Cobalt and Quorum business parks.

We’ll be sharing more information about the bike trains soon. Look out for #TheBikeTrain on social media.

We will continue to monitor the road network and the mitigation measures which are in place throughout the project.

Full details of our mitigation measures can be found here: newcastle.gov.uk/parking-roads-and-transport/re-newcastle-transport-improvements/connecting-key-junctions-across-5

Temporary bus lanes on Benton Lane and Benton Road

We’ve had a lot of feedback about this and about the impact of additional traffic using the Four Lane Ends junction.

These bus lanes have been essential for keeping buses moving on time during the Killingworth Road closure.

This is important because a high proportion of households in the area do not have access to a car and, as the Metro has not been running in in this area during the summer, the bus has been the only option for many people.

Information on bus diversions and fares incentives is available here: http://www.newcastle.gov.uk/parking-roads-and-transport/re-newcastle-transport-improvements/connecting-key-junctions-across-1

Advice for people walking and cycling

There is information and maps for people walking and cycling online here: newcastle.gov.uk/parking-roads-and-transport/re-newcastle-transport-improvements/connecting-key-junctions-across-2

These include recommended routes from Longbenton to South Gosforth and to Gosforth or Newcastle.

Advice for people driving

Wherever possible people are encouraged to use public transport, walk or cycle.

If people do need to drive we would advise people coming from the areas around Killingworth and to the north to travel via Sandy Lane, rather than via Four Lane Ends, which has seen greater congestion at peak times.

For those travelling to Newcastle from further north of the A19 or A189 then we would advise going south on the A1 via the Seaton Burn junction and then into Newcastle on the A167 or A695.

If you live areas around Killingworth Road there are new maps with suggested routes available online here: newcastle.gov.uk/parking-roads-and-transport/re-newcastle-transport-improvements/connecting-key-junctions-across-7

Next steps

Now that work on the Metro bridge and track renewal has been completed, Nexus and their sub-contractors will be finishing their work and leaving the site in early October.

At this point the gas board will move onto the site in order to begin their work, which will involve moving major gas mains in the area.

We appreciate people’s patience while these works are carried out.

If you have any queries please email updateme@newcastle.gov.uk

The above article was written by Newcastle City council and has been included for information purposes.  The content does not necessarily represent the views of High West Jesmond Resmond Residents’ Association.

Public meeting called on Communal Bins

The council are still planning to impose communal bins on the residents of High West Jesmond.

Public meeting with MP called to discuss residents concerns regarding Newcastle City Council’s plan to impose communal bins after 95% of High West Jesmond said they were AGAINST such plans

95% say NO to communal bins in poll

This is despite a recent poll conducted by our local councillors which indicated 95% OPPOSITION to the council’s plan.

Meeting to be attended by Catherine McKinnell MP – Mon 18 Sept

Communal bins rubbish on Osborne Avenue back lane – Newcastle upon Tyne

High West Jesmond Residents’ Association has arranged a public meeting, to be held on Monday 18 September at 19:00 at the Trinity Church on Gosforth High Street to discuss this matter. The meeting will be attended by our local MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North, Catherine McKinnell MP.

Prior to her re-election as our MP Catherine sent a message to local residents as follows:

“I know that the proposed roll-out of communal bins by the City Council is causing a good deal of concern amongst many High West Jesmond residents – and that’s why I have sought to represent these concerns to the Chief Executive, the relevant Cabinet Member and officers both formally in writing, and in meetings.

I am particularly keen to ensure that local residents are properly consulted before any such changes are introduced, and that the outcome of this consultation is taken into account when any final decisions are taken on this issue.

I do not want to see such changes simply imposed on local residents, and will therefore continue to press the City Council for meaningful consultation on this issue.”

The meeting on 18th September will be your opportunity to discuss directly with Catherine your thoughts and concerns about the council’s proposed actions.

At the meeting there will also be an update on the latest position regarding plans for the Blue House Roundabout, as well as the Associations’ Annual General Meeting and election of officers for 2017/18.

Nominations are welcomed for officers and committee members and should be sent to Fiona Bruce before Monday 11th September 2017.

We would be delighted to see as many local residents as possible attending this meeting. We anticipate the meeting lasting approximately 90 minutes.

Read more about the council’s proposal for communal bins and see some photographs from newcastle streets where communal bins have been introduced on our Communal bins page.