Blue House roundabout plans ‘on hold’

The Evening Chronicle has reported that the plans to overhaul Newcastle’s Blue House roundabout are ‘on hold’ because of the city’s pollution issues.

Newcastle City Council first unveiled its plans to make major changes to the Blue House Roundabout in 2016.

‘Mega roundabout’ on the Town Moor

The original plans were for a so-called ‘mega roundabout’ to be built on the Town Moor.

There was substantial concern from local residents and huge protests took place which saw the original proposals abandoned.

High West Jesmond Residents Assiciation (HWJRA) represented the views of local residents at the time and opposed the 2016 plans.

Subsequently HWJRA, together with Jesmond Residents Association, West Gosforth Residents Association and others were represented on the Blue House Working Group which was then set up to consider alternative suggestions.

You can read a background summary on the Blue House Roundabout here.

Blue House Working Group made proposals

It’s now more than a year since an the alternative proposal from the Blue House Working Group was unveiled and it was expected that a response from Newcastle City Council would be announced soon.

It was anticipated that final designs for Blue House roundabout were being developed and modelled based on recommendations from the working group set up following the backlash to original proposals in the summer of 2016.

And these final plans were anticipated to be publicised this summer.

Read more: Haddricks Mill roundabout improvements to start

Read more: Blue House Working Group recommendations slide deck available 

Read more: Meeting hears recommendations from Blue House Working Group

‘On hold’

The Evening Chronicle has reported that plans for the Blue House roundabout have been put ‘on hold’.

Read more on the Evening Chronicle website: Blue House roundabout on hold due to pollution crisis

We need to ‘take into account air quality’

The Evening Chronicle reported on 28 March 2019 that Graham Grant, Head of Transport Investment, told a Newcastle City Council Oversight and Scrutiny Committee meeting on Tuesday that:

“We need to take into account the consultation on air quality.

At the moment, both the Blue House roundabout and Haddricks Mill both feature as part of the Clean Air Zone – we have been clear that we are open to different ideas and interpretations and are consulting on an alternative.

“We need to understand where we are going with that piece of work before we can commit to the design of the Blue House roundabout.

We have said that we will deliver improvements there not all at the same time — we are doing Killingworth Road, then Haddricks Mill, then Blue House roundabout.

We feel that we have sufficient time to take into account the outcomes of the air quality work before we finalise proposals.”

You can read a background summary on the Blue House Roundabout here.

Residents parking

There has been an ongoing and rather lively debate on the HWJRA Facebook page about the pros and cons of residents’ parking in our area.

Live in High West Jesmond? why not join our HWJRA Facebook group

It’s fair to say that opinion is divided on this matter with those people living on streets near to the metro and bus stops (Albury Road, Moorfield, Ilford Road) more likely to be in favour than those who do not.

The council last tested local opinion on this matter in 2010 and are prepared to do so again, however before they can put the issue of residents’ parking to a local poll they need to conduct an assessment of the current parking density in the area.

HWJRA has pointed out to the council that if they were to do an assessment right now then it might be misrepresentative of what is about to happen.

This is because, under the Streets for People proposed changes to Ilford Road and Moorfield, a number of parking spaces would be lost on both roads with the likely net result that the parking density in the middle part of Moorfield would become even greater.

We have therefore suggested to the council that they either factor this in to their calculations or they delay the assessment until the Streets for People work is completed. We will keep you updated on this.

 

Moorfield and Ilford Road proposals revealed

Proposals for changes to Moorfield and Ilford Road roads have been revealed by Newcastle City Council following the earlier public consultations under the Streets for People initiative.

Drop in session on 19 March 2019

A public drop in session is being arranged by Newcastle City Council for the public to see the Streets for People proposals on Tuesday 19 March 2019 3pm – 7pm at Jesmond Library, St George’s Terrace.

Newcastle City Council has spent the time since the public consultation on original proposals were issued in October 2017 converting the findings from the public consultation and internal council consultations into briefs to amend the original drawings in the neighbourhood plans for Heaton & Ouseburn; Jesmond; & Arthur’s Hill & Fenham.

The Council’s Streets for People website January 2019 update says that the amended scheme drawings have been  “thoroughly costed so we have a much clearer idea of what is affordable and achievable within the available budget”.

“It was always our intention to propose a greater number of schemes than we had the budget for, thereby creating a sub set of ‘go to’ proposals in each area that could be brought forward in the event of other funding being identified.”

Newcastle City Council has discussed the options for each area with the Streets for People reference groups and fed this back to local Ward Councillors who have determined the following shortlisted schemes to progress to formal consultation and delivery.

Jesmond proposals

The proposals in Jesmond are as follows:

  • Traffic calming and junction improvements along Moorfield and cycle track on Ilford Road between Jesmond Dene Road and Moorfield;
  • Pedestrian crossings and cycling facilities on Osborne Road at the junctions with St George’s Terrace and North Jesmond Avenue;
  • Raised tables to improve the experience for people walking or trying to cross at the road ends along St George’s Terrace;
  • Closing Norham Place to motor vehicles near the junction with Mistletoe Road; and
  • Decluttering Brentwood Avenue to improve the pedestrian experience and adding some cycle parking near the shops.

You can read about proposals for other parts of Newcastle upon Tyne on the Streets for People website.

Moorfield and Ilford Road proposals

The principal objectives behind the changes are to reduce the speed of traffic on both roads and to improve pedestrian and cycling safety.

Many of you may remember that it was originally proposed to narrow Moorfield by adding a wide cycle lane along its full length.

Whilst there was widespread support for the objectives of reducing speed and increasing safety, the reaction of local residents to the significant narrowing of Moorfield was strongly negative.

High West Jesmond Residents Association were therefore pleased to learn that the Council has reacted to the feedback that they received and has produced a revised proposal that maintains the current width of Moorfield for most of its length.

The Council has advised that full details of the proposal are going to be made available shortly, and have organised a “drop-in session” at Jesmond Library on Tuesday 19 March from 3pm – 7.30pm so that local residents can take a look at the detail of the proposals and comment on them.

Our understanding is that the proposals will include:

  • The introduction of a cycling lane along the west side of Ilford Road from Jesmond Dene Road to Moorfield
  • Tightening of the junction at Moorfield/Ilford Road and introduction of a raised platform to slow traffic as it crosses this junction along and across Ilford Road
  • Introduction of three speed ramps along Moorfield to reduce the speed of traffic along this road
  • Some amendments at the junction of Moorfield and Moor Road South to make this junction safer (we have not yet seen the details of this part of the proposal).

We will make the plans available via our website and the notice board on Newlands Road as soon as they are available from the council.

You can download a copy of the leaflet Newcastle City Council has issued for the drop in session on Tuesday 19 March 2019.

Statutory consultation process

The Streets for People website also states that “We recognise that some people involved in this process may not agree with the shortlisted schemes, and appreciate they will have their own preferences. We also recognise that the delivery of the above schemes are subject to statutory consultation processes and it is clear that some will be significantly more controversial than others. We hope we can rely on your ongoing engagement with the process to get a range of improvements delivered.”

 

Haddricks Mill roundabout improvements to start

Work is to start shortly to improve Haddricks Mill roundabouts in South Gosforth.

The improvements are part of Newcastle City Council’s plans to improve key junctions across the city from the Blue House Roundabout, Jesmond Dene Road to Haddricks Mill and beyond.

You can read more about the previous plans from August 2016 for the Blue House Roadabout and Jesmond Dene Road elsewhere on this website.

The upcoming Hadricks Mill improvements were also opened for public consultation in August 2016, although the work that is now to take place is much less than the original plan to widen the Haddricks Mill junction and replace the existing 2 roundabouts with 1 substantially larger roundabout.

You can read more about what Newcastle City Council plan below.

The following announcement has been made by Newcastle City Council:

Haddricks Mill double roundabout in South Gosforth is set to benefit from £4m investment to improve safety and congestion through an upgrade of the ageing infrastructure in the area.

A well-known collision hotspot Haddricks Mill also suffers from congestion, delays and safety issues – particularly in relation to cyclists.

Six roads converge

Six roads converge onto the junction which is used by tens of thousands of commuters each day, with queues building up at peak periods, leading to longer journey times and affecting air quality in the area.

The major investment will renovate the bridge the junction sits on, realign traffic lanes to improve lane discipline, re-position the mini-roundabouts to increase capacity and install new crossing facilities that will help balance traffic flow in peak periods.

This should have the added benefit of reducing high levels of congestion and improving air quality.

Cllr Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality said: “Haddricks Mill is a notorious junction and I am pleased it is to be given a much-needed overhaul.

“This is a major safety and infrastructure upgrade scheme, designed to improve safety and smooth traffic flow at peak periods – reducing congestion and encouraging more sustainable choices of travel – which should improve air quality.

“Due to the junction’s location over the Ouseburn and several businesses lining the approaches, the options available to improve it are limited but we have designed a scheme that delivers safety and congestion improvements for one of the key routes into the city and which takes into account residents’ feedback from our earlier consultation.”

The works are a scaled-down version of the proposals the council consulted on in 2016 and addresses many of the concerns raised by residents such as the size of the junction, changes to access to a local housing estate and proposed banned turns and movements.

Work will last until 2020

The council plans to take advantage of the current closure on Killingworth Road to start preparatory work on the junction, reducing the disruption to commuters before the main works start.

The main programme of work to the carriageway will be begin this spring and should last until early 2020.

However, the council is committed to minimising disruption and keeping two-way traffic on all approaches – apart from occasional night-time and weekend closures for resurfacing towards the end of the programme.

Minor tree removal is necessary with up to ten trees needing to be removed as part of the scheme, but the council will replace them with at least 30 trees to further improve the environment.

The full package of improvements includes:

•           Water-proofing and maintenance to the bridge the junction sits on

•           Re-construction of carriageway

•           Raised bridge parapets to improve safety

•           Realignment of the roundabouts to increase capacity

•           Widened lanes and better signage to improve lane discipline

•           Improved crossing points for pedestrians and cyclists on the main arms of the junction to control the flow of traffic at peak periods

•           Improved cycling and walking facilities including accessible routes to the Wagon Way

•           Segregated cycle lanes incorporated where space allows

•           Raised table to reduce speeding on Hunters Road

Full plans for Haddricks Mill junction

You can also download the full plans for Haddricks Mill junction.

And read more in a leaflet produced by Newcastle City Council.

Planned Newcastle Northern Access Corridor road

The works to Haddricks Mill is part of planned improvements for a key transport corridor which runs from Cowgate to the north of the city, including Blue House roundabout, Haddricks Mill and Killingworth Road.

Revised Blue House Roundabout plans

Final designs for Blue House are being developed and modelled based on recommendations from a working group set up following the backlash to original proposals in the summer of 2016.

These will be publicised this summer.

Killingworth Road ongoing works

We’re investing over £13.5m to widen the well-known pinch point at Killingworth Road.

This funding is focused on addressing some major maintenance issues including the retaining wall and ensuring the bridge over the Ouse that the Haddricks Mill junction sits on is safe for future generations.

Over-runs to the gas diversion works has meant a delay to the re-opening of Killingworth Road. Newcastle City Council would like to thank everyone for their patience during the roadworks. You can read more here.

The project received £4m from the Government’s Local Growth Deal through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The Local Growth Deal is supporting major capital investments to promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport as part of the North East Growth Deal.

The above news story 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. 

Killingworth Road could re-open from May

The following announcement has been made by Newcastle City Council:

Newcastle City Council is advising motorists that Killingworth Road could re-open to traffic from May providing the weather conditions remain stable.

The council say current project timelines, barring severe weather events such as last year’s Beast from the East, could see the road partially open to traffic before summer.

Due to on-going construction works, initially only one-way (south bound) traffic and pedestrians could be accommodated in the available road space. Estimates show two-way traffic could use the road from July onwards.

Essential work by contractors is still taking place around the Metro bridge which has pushed back the early 2019 re-opening. Further construction work is required before the road can safely be re-opened to traffic and pedestrians.

Project manager, Jon Higgins from Newcastle City Council said: “We appreciate the inconvenience the extended closure on Killingworth Road has had on the travelling public and we would like to reassure motorists that we are working closely with contractors to open the road as soon as possible.

“Current estimates show that we could have one-way traffic using the road in May, but this is heavily based on no further complications such as severe weather conditions further hampering progress on site.

“We know this is disappointing for motorists and we appreciate their patience during the extended road closure, but safety is paramount before we can allow traffic and pedestrians back on Killingworth Road.”

The project was beset with difficulties during the gas pipes replacement programme with Northern Gas Networks which caused it to severely over-run.

Engineers have been reviewing the timeline to compensate for the delays but with multiple contractors involved and complex engineering work required the project has slipped back.

Contractors are currently finalising piling works to construct new retaining walls next to the Metro bridge. Once this is complete, construction teams can access the site under the bridge to do final road-widening works.

A phased opening is planned which will allow traffic and pedestrians with safe routes through the roadworks. As the scheme progresses, further road space will become available and two-way traffic will be introduced.

The council will continue the last stages of the works with installing widened footpaths, cycle lane, bus lane, vehicle lane and safer crossings.

Construction work will continue into early 2020.

Once complete, the project will improve air quality, reduce journey times and improve public transport reliability on one of the major commuter routes into the city.

The above news story 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. 

MP writes to Northern Gas Networks over extended closure of Killingworth Road

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North has written a letter to Northern Gas Networks about the ongoing closure of Killingworth Road and the disruption caused to local residents and businsses.

The letter was addressed to Mark Horsley, the Chief Executive Officer of Northern Gas Networks.

Northern Gas Networks is responsible for the delivery of gas to 2.7 million homes and businesses in the North East, Northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire.

Residents can read the letter which was published on Catherine McKinnell’s Twitter page twitter.com/CatMcKinnell    @CatMcKinnell

Holding reply from Northern Gas Networks

A response was made on Twitter by Northern Gas Networks  @NGNgas where they said: “We’ve seen your letter and we’ll have a direct response to you very soon.”

Killingworth Road extended closure until 2019

The work on Killingworth Road was originally planend to be completed in February 2018 but there was then a delay until June 2018.

It was then announced that Killingworth Road (the A189), an important business and commuter route, would continued to be closed until 2019 due to ongoing delays with the work.

You can read the MP’s letter below.