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.

FOVALD appreciation of Susan Lydia Challoner

Plaque commissioned by FOVALD’s Lending a Hand group to show appreciation to former resident who donated the ‘gap in the wall’

The Friends of the Valley, Little Dene and Little Dene Park’s (FOVALD) Lending a Hand Group has recently commissioned a new plaque to tell the story of the ‘hole in the wall’ at Little Dene Park.

On Friday 8 February Catherine McKinnell MP was invited to unveil the plaque commemorating the gift by Susan Lydia Challoner of the ‘gap in the wall’ that gives us all a short cut on to Moor Road South.

The plaque has been commissioned by FOVALD’s Lending a Hand Group that now looks after the Little Dene Park in addition to the Valley and Little Dene.

Members of FOVALD, the Lending a Hand Group and local High West Jesmond residents attended the ceremony to learn more about the generosity of Susan Lydia Challoner and the history of this part of High West Jesmond.

Who was Susan Lydia Challoner?

The plaque commemorates a lady called Susan Lydia Challoner who lived in Moor Road South between 1936 and 1953.

The park, which we now know as Little Dene Park, was constructed by the Newcastle City Council in 1952-53.

Mrs Challoner, who died in that year, bequeathed the money to pay for the entrance from Moor Road South.

The ‘hole in the wall’ has become a very well used route for residents in Gosforth and High West Jesmond.

The original plaque commemorating Mrs Challoners gift disappeared around 1990.

As part of FOVALD’s environmental improvement plan for the Little Dene Park they decided to reinstate the plaque.

FOVALD’s Lending a Hand Group tapped into resident’s memories to find the wording that best reflected the original and they commissioned the new plaque from Thorpes of Gosforth.

FOVALD caring for our green spaces

FOVALD (Friends of the Valley, the Little Dene and Little Dene Park) a small voluntary organisation based in High West Jesmond.

They have adopted the Valley from the City Council and the Little Dene Park from the City’s Freemen (it is part of the Town Moor).

FOVALD also look after the original Little Dene as a nature resource.

On Tuesday mornings, FOVALD organise’s a group called Lending a Hand that does the maintenance & improvement work on the green spaces in this part of High West Jesmond, as well as keeping all the other verges and paths in the area tidy.

Many thanks to FOVALD and to the Lending a Hand group for their ongoing work to enhance our community green spaces.

Chris Morgan also writes to share some history

When the High West Jesmond estate was first laid out Moorfield stopped at the now triangular junction with Lodore Road.

The main way into HWJ from the Great North Road was by the path that cut across the Little Moor.

However there must also have been a path leading from that corner to the bottom of Moor Road where the Little Bridge still crossed the Craghall Burn. My mother remembered playing in the stream at that point.

It must have been very soon after WW1 that Moorfield was extended through to the Great North Road and the stream went into a culvert to emerge in the grounds of the old house, Little Dene.

Boundary of Newcastle

At this time the stream formed the boundary between the City and County of Newcastle upon Tyne and the County of Northumberland. On the surface the stone wall was the boundary.

The Little Moor is part of the Town Moor owned by the Freemen, but this part of the Little Moor was now isolated.

Little Park

In 1952 the Freemen released the area north of Moorfield to form a Coronation Park (there must have been thousands of others across the nation, it was a time of great euphoria and celebration), although it wasn’t known as such. We all called it the Little Park.

The flower beds created were almost totally of clay and little grew for decades! I believe they may still be a challenge.

When the park was laid out there was a path extending around the perimeter with a dead end spur ending beside the stone wall. If memory serves correctly my friend Tony Devine’s bike/trike/scooter ran away down the gradient and he crashed into the wall, badly breaking his arm.

Hole in the wall

A clamour grew to have the wall opened up to allow free passage onto Moor Road South. It may not have happened for 2 or 3 years after 1953.

A simple plaque was positioned and the name Challoner was on it. There may have been another name as well.

Twice a day nuns from the convent just up Moor Road walked through the gap to and from La Sagesse school at the top of Matthew Bank.

Lending a hand path tidying along Lodore Road

The Lending a Hand group of volunteers have been busy tidying up the path along Lodore Road, High West Jesmond.

Here is a photograph taken by Chris Morgan who was visiting High West Jesmond at the time and spotted the work party busy with their work.

Chris commented on our Facebook page:

“What a team spirited group. Think they may have persuaded me to do another history walk first Sunday in June 2019. Will have to check diary to confirm in the New Year.”

That’s certainly something to look forward to – last year’s Walking the Bounds of High West Jesmond was a well attended and interesting event.

UPDATE: The Walking the Bounds 2019 will take place on Sunday 2 June 2019. Details will be posted to this website nearer the time.

FOVALD caring for our green spaces

FOVALD (Friends of the Valley, Little Dene and Little Dene Park) is a small voluntary organisation based in High West Jesmond.

They have adopted the Valley from the City Council and  Little Dene Park from the City’s Freemen (it is part of the Town Moor).

FOVALD also look after the original Little Dene as a nature resource.

On Tuesday mornings, FOVALD organise’s a group called Lending a Hand that does the maintenance & improvement work on the green spaces in this part of High West Jesmond, as well as keeping all the other verges and paths in the area tidy.

Many thanks to FOVALD and to the Lending a Hand group for their ongoing work to enhance our community green spaces.

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

Meeting hears recommendations from Blue House Working Group

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.

John Dales, Independent Chair of Blue House Working Group, invited 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.

Residents filled the senior school hall at Newcastle School for Boys – photo courtesy Katie Dickinson from Twitter @KatieJDickinson

There was a packed room in the senior school hall at Newcastle School for Boys on The Grove, Gosforth for the meeting which started at 6.30pm.

John Dales introduced the proposals and other members of the Working Group explained how they had been involved with the process of developing the recommendations.

The meeting also provided an opportunity for some questions from the audience, which were responded to by members of the Blue House Working Group and a representative from Newcastle City Council, Graham Grant who is Head of Transport Investment with the Council.

Representatives at the meeting

A number of community groups were represented at the meeting who spoke including:

  • Nick Moore, Chair, High West Jesmond Residents Association
  • Veronica Stoner, Chair, West Gosforth Residents Association
  • Tony Waterson, Chair, Jesmond Residents Association
  • Peter MacDonald, Space for Gosforth
  • Sally Watson, Newcastle Cycling Campaign
  • Andrew Lambert, Gosforth Traffic

Speakers also included two of our local councillors:

  • Stella Postlethwaite, Cllr North Jesmond (Lab)
  • Nick Cott, Cllr West Gosforth (Lib Dem)

Recommendations made to the Council

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

John Dales explained that the working group had made recommendations to the Council.

It was noted that traffic flows at the Blue House Roundabout in 2016 were 10% lower than they had been in 2008 and that this equated to approximately 400 less peak hour vehicles.

Drawing A – proposed by the Blue House Working Group

Drawing A sets out the scope of change recommended at the Blue House junction in the immediate future. This involves limited work.

Drawing B – proposed by the Blue House Working Group

Drawing B sets out how this could be further built upon in the future to increase traffic capacity if this was required. This is more major work, a bigger roundabout and demolition of the Blue House itself.

Download the BHWG presentation

You can download the 52 page pdf slide deck used for the 12 March 2018 presentation here – Blue House Working Group 12 March 2018 presentation

You can read more about the recommendations from the Blue House Working Group here – Blue House Working Group makes recommendations

Council not able to respond to recommendations before purdah starts

The audience was interested in knowing what the next steps would be and when Newcastle City Council would respond to the recommendations it had received from the Blue House Working Group. And when Newcastle City Council would publish its revised plans for the roundabout.

Graham Grant, Head of Transport Investment at Newcastle City Council said that Newcastle City Council would not be able to respond within the next two weeks and then, after 27 March 2018, the ‘purdah’ rules on the run up to the local government elections on 3 May 2018 would prevent the council from making an announcement until after the elections.

This means that local residents will not know the council plans as they go to the polls to elect their local councillors.

Following changes to the ward boundaries in Newcastle upon Tyne the local government election on 3 May will be an ‘all-out’ election with every seat being contested at the same time, rather than the normal third of the seats being up for election. All 78 seats will be up for re-election with electors voting for up to 3 candidates.

Residents were shown recommendation Drawing A – for potential development at Blue House Roundabout – photo courtesy Oliver Ross Assogna from Twitter @OliverR_Assogna

Council to undertake work

Graham Grant explained that the council was undertaking work following receipt of the recommendations from the Blue House Working Group.

He also noted that the council was keen to keep the Blue House Working Group involved as the council develops its plans.

Graham announced that the council’s work would include:

  • Reviewing detailed plans;
  • undertaking a ‘micro simulation’ model;
  • undertaking modelling using air quality software;
  • sharing the results of work with the Blue House Working Group;
  • discussing matters with the Stewards’ Committee of the Freeman of the City of Newcastle;
  • discussing with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) how criteria for funding can be used; and
  • considering the impact of changes in the public’s travel behaviour.

Graham Grant also committed that representatives from the Blue House Working Group would be invited to meetings with both the North East LEP and the Steward’s Committee.

Questions from audience

Following questions from the audience about openness and transparency, Graham Grant also noted that he was more than happy to give access to the council’s modelling information so that those who were interested would have the opportunity to study the details.

A member of the Blue House Working Group noted that they had challenged some of the outputs from earlier data models as not making sense and when the Council reviewed these again different results were obtained.  John Dales acknowledged that traffic models were always challenging.

Another audience member asked why comments/questions previously left on the Blue House Working Group website had not been responded as not responding did not fulfil the definition of engagement. 

Whilst the Blue House Working Group website had been set up by Newcastle City Council and Open Labs at Newcastle University, a volunteer member of the Blue House Working Group offered an apology that the resources had not been deployed to respond to comments that had been left.

Going forwards, anyone who wishes to receive future updates from the council was asked to leave their email address with Ali Lamb. The council plans to send an update email within the next 2 weeks.

As well as local residents and stakeholders the meeting was also attended by reporters from the Newcastle Chronicle and Jesmond Local. The meeting closed at 8.30pm.

Background reading

 
You can read more about the recommendations from the Blue House Working Group here – Blue House Working Group makes recommendations
 
You can read the response from Newcastle City Council here – Council welcomes residents input into Blue House junction proposals

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