Blue House recommendations slide deck available

Current view of Blue House Roundabout, High West Jesmond – from Google Maps

The Blue House Working Group recently made recommendations to Newcastle City Council about the Blue House Roundabout and a public meeting was arranged on 12 March 2018 so that local residents could hear more from the working group.

Download the BHWG presentation

The full 52 page pdf slide deck used for the 12 March 2018 presentation has now become available and has been placed on the Blue House Working Group website here – Blue House Working Group 12 March 2018 presentation

Read more about the 12 March 2018 in our short article on this website Meeting hears recommendations from Blue House Working Group

New SPACE for Jesmond group

SPACE for Gosforth is extending into the Jesmond area under the name SPACE for Jesmond.

As High West Jesmond sits between Gosforth and Jesmond then residents may be interested in knowing about or joining this group.

SPACE stands for “safe pedestrian and cycling environment”.

The Jesmond group will provide a forum for residents interested in making Jesmond better for walking, cycling and street play, as well as monitoring air quality in the area.

The group aims to carry on work done as part of the Streets For People consultation and promote the benefits of investing in people friendly spaces in Jesmond.

The work will likely include:

  • Liaising with Newcastle City Council and Ward Councillors
  • Flagging up safety issues for people on foot or bike
  • Addressing rat running and speeding in Jesmond
  • Engaging with consultations and council forums
  • Working towards a better Jesmond for children
  • Promoting active and sustainable travel in the area, including school travel
    Managing on-line accounts on Twitter and Facebook
  • Publishing material on www.spaceforjesmond.com

If you’d like to receive information from the group, or are interested in taking a more active role, then you can get in touch with SPACE for Jesmond via one of the following methods:

email: spaceforjesmond@gmail.com
twitter: @SPACEforJesmond
facebook: PENDING

Killingworth Road re-opening delayed by gas works

Newcastle City Council are advising motorists of a delay to the re-opening of Killingworth Road (A189) in Gosforth due to over-running gas diversion works.

The following news release has been issued by Newcastle City Council:

Dealys to gas diversion works at Killingworth Road, Newcastle

Essential gas works are currently taking place by Northern Gas Networks to divert three gas mains away from the section of carriageway due for improvement as part of the council’s multi-million road improvement scheme.

Due to unforeseen complications during this phase, the council say this part of the project is facing a 12-week delay and the road will now re-open in June.

This is due to two separate discoveries of asbestos and also the condition of an existing high pressure water pipe which also needed to be moved before the gas diversion works could continue.

Andy Coyne, project manager for Northern Gas Networks (NGN) said: “Moving three major gas pipes, whilst keeping the gas supplies running to the 35,000 homes and businesses they feed – especially during this cold snap – was always a challenging and complex task and was scheduled to take 27 weeks.

“This was made all the more testing by the discovery of asbestos at two points in the works which had to be safely removed due to the health dangers it presents, as well as working with Northumbrian Water to divert a water main due to the condition and integrity of the main when fully exposed within our excavations.

“These unavoidable issues have had an impact on our project timeline, but we have been working closely with the council to see how we can recover lost time on the project and keep the delay to a minimum. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

Over £13.5m is being invested into this well-known pinch-point on the network, which has seen the installation of a new Metro bridge and will see a road-widening scheme to include an additional bus lane, and widened pavements along with more space for vehicles.

The gas industry has very tight restrictions on where pipes can be sited near pavements and roads. As the council are building a new wall and road where the gas pipes are currently located, they need to be diverted before construction on the new carriageway can begin.

Cllr Arlene Ainsley, Cabinet Member for Transport and Air Quality:The Killingworth Road scheme was progressing well until asbestos was detected underground. Asbestos is a toxic substance which had to be carefully removed before the gas works could safely continue.

“Then there was the issue with a major water pipe which needed to be relocated due to health and safety reasons,which also had to be rectified. Unfortunately these issues have impacted on NGN’s schedule and we are looking at a 12-week delay to the re-opening of the road.

“Although the delay is regrettable, impacting on commuters and construction costs, they are not unusual when it comes to digging up roads. Under our roads there are a labyrinth of utility pipes and old infrastructure which can raise unexpected issues, which has happened in this case.

“We would like to reassure everyone that we are doing everything we can to open the road as soon as possible. We apologise for the extended inconvenience to commuters and everyone affected and we are committed to allowing traffic on Killingworth Road as soon as it is safe to do so, once the gas works are finished.”

The council say the road needs to remain closed until the gas works are fully complete. This is due to NGN creating a series of bypass pipes to re-route the gas whilst they excavate and install new pipes. As the new connector pipes are temporary, they will remain over ground, so the area needs to be secured away from the public. The road can only re-open once all the pipe works are complete and buried underground.

Once this phase of gas works is complete and traffic is using Killingworth Road, the council will then start the road widening scheme but this has been carefully phased to minimise impact on commuters. This highways widening scheme is scheduled to last until December 2018.

Once complete the scheme will reduce congestion, improve air quality, reduce journey times, improve public transport reliability and improve safety for people on foot and bikes to one of the busiest commuter routes into Newcastle.

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.

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

 

Pledge to reduce street clutter with Newcastle Street Charter

Newcastle City Council has pledged to work with local disabled people to tackle the growing issue of street clutter and improve accessibility in the city.

The Newcastle Street Charter, which is the second to be agreed in the North East, is the first in the UK to include actions to tackle the issue disabled people face due to taxi drivers refusing to carry assistance dogs and cyclists riding on pavements.

Working with RNIB

Newcastle’s Street Charter was developed alongside RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) and 18 pan-disability organisations, including Newcastle Disability Forum.

The charter was launched on on 18 December 2017 at Newcastle Civic Centre and also aims to address the growing problem of street obstacles; bollards, advertising boards, bins, cars parked on pavements, and shared space schemes.

Survey results published in RNIB’s My Voice report revealed that a third of blind and partially sighted people of pension age had collided with an obstacle on the pavement in the last three months.

The estimated number of people living with sight loss in Newcastle is 7,770.

RNIB and disabled campaigners across the UK have called on local authorities to review their street policies and to consult with local disabled people on what changes they most want to see.

Angus Huntley, RNIB Volunteer Campaign Coordinator and Newcastle Vision Support Empowerment Officer, said: “We hope Newcastle’s Street Charter will give local people with sight loss more confidence when they are out and about, without constantly worrying about the hazards around them.”

Alison Blackburn, Chair of Newcastle Disability Forum, said “The Newcastle Street Charter is a good example of partnership working. It builds on the work that the forum has been doing for 30 years along with Newcastle City Council and other disability organisations to improve access and encourage everyone to use our beautiful city.”

Mark Burnett, Head of Mobility Services for Guide Dogs North East, said: “We welcome the launch of the Newcastle Street Charter. “Guide Dogs is pleased that Newcastle City Council is supporting people who are blind or partially sighted, to move around safely and with confidence and live the life they choose.”

Joyce McCarty, Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “Newcastle has so much to offer, from shopping to restaurants and bars. We want to make sure as many people as possible can take advantage of these.

“We recognise that a trip to busy town centres can be challenging for blind, partially sighted people and disabled people. We are really pleased to have had the opportunity to work with RNIB and various disability organisations to create a Street Charter. It will help raise awareness about how everyone can do their bit to help make our streets safer and more accessible.”

Find out more

For more information visit www.rnib.org.uk/onmystreet

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.