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.

Streets for People – HWJRA submits views from residents’ meeting

During the consultation period of proposed changes to streets in High West Jesmond as part of the Streets for People initiative HWJRA held a residents meeting on Monday 13 November 2017.

The meeting was held at Jesmond Library and was well attended.

HWJRA organised the event so that residents had the opportunity to find out more about the proposals for Moorfield and Ilford Road, ask questions and hear others views.

Following the meeting HWJRA submitted the views from the residents to Streets for People so that these could be taken into account before the consultation period closes on 30 November 2017.

A copy of the HWJRA submission is shown below.

The Moorfield and Ilford Road proposal from Streets for People

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

Your feedback is wanted

The Streets for People initiative want to hear from you and you can provide feedback via their website. You have until 30 November 2017 to submit your feedback.

Residents’ views as submitted by HWJRA

The following in a summary of the HWJRA Meeting which was held to discuss the Streets for People Proposal – 13/11/2017:

Present:

Ilford Rd/Moorfield (15 residents)
Lodore/Treherne/Albemarle/Kingswood/Newlands (13 residents)
Albury/Honister/Woodthorne (4 residents)
Councillor Henry Gallagher
Total (32 residents plus 1 councillor)

The S4P proposal was explained in detail and then the group were invited to discuss and express their views, looking at each of the main aspects of the proposal separately.

1. Ilford Road/Moorfield Junction

All agreed that there was an issue of safety at this junction and welcomed the proposal to improve this.

The group was split 1/3 in favour, 1/3 against, 1/3 not sure about the roundabout design. The group wasn’t against a roundabout “per-se” but was concerned about some of the details.

Residents’ principal concern at this junction is pedestrian and cyclist safety – in particular it is difficult for pedestrians (particularly those with pushchairs or in wheelchairs) to cross over Ilford Road on the northern side of the junction.

The previous redesign of Ilford Road has led to poor visibility on Ilford Road on the northern side of the junction as traffic heading north waits for traffic heading south in the approximate location of the proposed roundabout. This should be tackled as part of any redesign of the junction.

Suggestions from the group

– Getting cars to slow down in all 4 directions is felt to be a good approach.

– Group would strongly support a raised platform at this junction (similar to the one at the junction of Moor Road South and the Grove). This could include a roundabout, but if it did then visibility and accessibility would need to be improved.

– Double yellow lines should be added around all 4 corners of the junction as cars currently park too close to the junction.

– A well located pedestrian crossing on the north side, going across Ilford Road, would be very beneficial for pedestrians and further slow traffic on Ilford Road.

– Dropped kerbs should be added at crossing points (except where there is a raised platform).

– Junction should be re-aligned east to west to improve safety.

2. Re-laid pavement and crossing points along Moorfield

Group was 100% in favour of this, subject to the width and location of the crossing points coinciding with existing points and the materials used being sympathetic to the area.

Suggestions from the group

Also renew pavement on north Moorfield between Treherne Road and Great North Road (using same materials as above) as it is in a similarly poor condition and a large puddle now appears where the old pavement meets the new pavement at the west end of Moorfield.

3. Narrowing of Moorfield

Residents strongly support reducing speeding traffic on Moorfield however they are strongly against doing this by narrowing the road.

The reasons for this were:

The visual amenity of a wide road is much appreciated by local residents and they would be very reluctant to see this changed.

Residents on Ilford Road feel that this road has become more dangerous since it was narrowed. There has been no noticeable decrease in speeding traffic, a notable increase in damage to cars (clipped wing mirrors etc) and overall the road feels more dangerous.

There was some concern that, particularly at night when there are less vehicles parked on Moorfield, it might look like a few cars have parked in the middle of the road and this could be disorientating and unsafe.

Concerns were also raised (via letter to the meeting) that Moorfield would become more dangerous to cross for pedestrians including many dog walkers who use the Little Moor.

Suggestions from the group

Residents were very much in favour of using an alternative approach to reduce the problem of speeding on Moorfield. A number of ideas were suggested and the following received strong support (in order of popularity).

– Introduce raised platforms at junctions of Moorfield and all or some of its side roads (Newlands Road, Kingswood Avenue, Albemarle Avenue, Treherne Road and Lodore Road). These would be similar to the junction of Moor Road South and the Grove

– Introduce nicely designed signage on the road or side of the road (maybe done by West Jesmond school) to make it clear that these are 20mph residential streets

– Introduce a “continuous pathway” along the northern side of Moorfield to reduce the speed at which cars enter and exit the side streets

– Introduce a pedestrian crossing on Ilford Road and possibly Moorfield

– Introduce an advisory “speed checker” sign halfway along Moorfield

4. Cycle Path along Moorfield

The group was split 2/3 “against” and 1/3 “unsure” about a cycle path. Nobody was in favour.

The reasons given for the opposition were:

Residents (including a number of cyclists) feel that cycling is already safe on Moorfield because of its width, and that there are other areas of Jesmond/Newcastle where the addition of a cycle path would be far more beneficial.

The cyclists in the group felt that they would be unlikely to use the cycle path as it was fairly narrow for two way cycle traffic and right next to parked cars. They would prefer to cycle on the wider roadway, particularly if speed of traffic is reduced.

Cyclists who live on the side streets off Moorfield also said that they would not want to have to cross the road between parked cars to get to a cycle lane on the south side of the road.

All felt that focus should be on reducing speed of traffic and improving the Ilford Road/Moorfield junction. Doing this would automatically improve safety for both cyclists and pedestrians.

Suggestions from the group

Remove the cycle lane from the proposal and focus on speed reduction and junction safety to enhance the cyclist and pedestrian experience.

5. Pavement widening at Moorfield/Treherne

The group was opposed to this as it was not felt to be a dangerous junction and there would be a net loss of parking space if the proposal went ahead.

That said, the group were concerned about the impact of dangerous and inconsiderate parking at all the junctions of Moorfield and its side streets (particularly where dropped kerbs are being blocked).

Suggestions from group.

Leave pavement at current width but introduce yellow lines on corners of Moorfield and its side streets to keep dropped kerbs fully accessible.

6. Removal of parking/redesign of junction at west end of Moorfield

The group was 100% in favour of this. Parked cars at this junction are making it dangerous for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

Suggestions from the group

Extend the proposed “no parking” area up to where Moorfield meets Lodore Road.

The group then discussed some of the other suggestions that have already been made on the S4P consultation website as follows:

7. Closing the junction of Moorfield and Great North Road

The group was split 38% in favour, 50% against and 12% don’t know on this proposal (Moorfield residents were split 50%/50%).

It was suggested that the impact of any changes at Blue House Roundabout would need to be factored in to any decision and that, during the construction phase of any project at BHR, a temporary closure might be appropriate.

8. Residents’ parking

Opinion was split 47% in favour, 41% against, 12% don’t know on this issue.

People on Ilford Road and Moorfield have been most directly impacted by the increase in “park and ride” that is clearly happening in the area and, as a consequence, are more likely to favour residents’ parking.

It was agreed that this issue should be looked at once the Streets for People (and possibly Blue House Roundabout) projects have been completed.

It was also suggested that Nexus should be encouraged to get the Regent Centre park and ride facility better used – possibly by bringing Regent Centre into Zone 1.

9. Ilford Road

Whilst the S4P project only directly impacts on Ilford Road at its junction with Moorfield, concern was expressed about this road and the continued high speed of traffic, damage to vehicles and difficulty at junctions – particularly at Lodore Road.

Residents were asked what their opinion would be on closing Ilford Road to through traffic by blocking the road at (for example) the point where Ilford Road becomes Rectory Road. T

he group was strongly opposed to this suggestion as they felt it would simply shift the problem of rat running elsewhere.

It was agreed that a submission on behalf of residents would be made by HWJRA to the S4P group.

Streets for People information

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

Residents’ meeting for Streets for People Moorfield & Ilford Road proposals

What changes would you make to Jesmond to encourage you to walk more, cycle more or let the kids play out?

That’s what Newcastle City Council asked residents in three areas of the city – Jesmond; Arthur’s Hill & Fenham; and Ouseburn & Heaton as part of the Council’s process for determining how to spend £3m of Cycle City Ambition Fund money in these areas.

Moorfield proposals

Included within the Jesmond proposals are plans for Moorfield & the junction with Ilford Road, High West Jesmond with a public consultation open until 30 November 2017.

Residents meeting – Monday 13 November

HWJRA (High West Jesmond Residents’ Association) would like to meet with local residents so that we can guage local opinion on the proposals and then submit a response on behalf of HWJRA.

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.

Cabinet lead talks about Streets for People

Hear Cllr Arlene Ainsley, Cabinet Member for Transport and Air Quality talk about Streets for People in a short video posted on to the Newcastle City Council Facebook page today.

More about Streets for People

You can find out more about Streets for People in our previous news article on this website.

Mobike launches its bike sharing platform in Newcastle

 

Mobike, the world’s first and largest smart bikeshare, officially launched its smart cycling scheme in Newcastle.

Starting from 16 October 2017, residents will now be able to download the app and use Mobike’s high tech silver and orange iconic bikes across Newcastle.

After successfully piloting the UK’s first council- and community-backed bicycle sharing scheme in Manchester, expanding to London and announcing a strategic partnership with British Cycling over the past few months, Mobike will deliver an initial 1,000 bikes to Newcastle, building on the bikes’ popularity with local councils and people across the country.

Over time, Mobike will work with the city to increase that number to meet growing demand for the service.

As with all of its city launches, Mobike has been working closely with Newcastle City Council and in collaboration with Northumbria University, Newcastle University and Newcastle Great Park, to adapt its operations to local demand, transport habits and cycling culture.

The Mobike app will guide users towards the best locations to pick up and park the bikes.

Newcastle users will be able to pay a discounted £2 deposit until 18 October 2017. After that, they will pay the same deposit as Manchester and London users when they sign up – £29. Riders will be charged 50p for 30 minutes.

The scheme is designed to benefit users, local business and communities, as well as Newcastle City Council by providing tailored data insights.

Unique to Mobike, the company’s entire fleet of over 7 million bikes are equipped with GPS and proprietary smart-lock technology that connect through the world’s largest mobile-enabled Internet of Things (IoT) platform.

Analysis of this data can help improve infrastructure planning in the long term, encourage proper cycling etiquette, as well as manage supply of bikes in specific locations with high demand.

Steve Pyer, UK General Manager for Mobike, said: “We’re really excited to kick off our operations in Newcastle today. It’s very rewarding to see the continuous support we get from a variety of organisations for the scheme, and from businesses keen to get involved in lots of different ways.

The city has a great ambition for improving its cycling culture and infrastructure, and we hope to play an important part in this initiative.”

Cllr Arlene Ainsley, Cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council, said: “It’s fantastic news that Newcastle has today become the third city in the UK to formally welcome Mobike. Like many cities, one of our major transport priorities is to reduce congestion and pollution which is caused by traffic. These problems have a negative impact on both our local economy and our health.

“One of the ways we can all make a difference is by making fewer journeys by car – particularly those shorter journeys across town which can often put a big strain on our road network. The introduction of this exciting new cycle hire scheme gives people the opportunity to change the way they travel and also improve their own health and the health of our city as a whole.”

David Jackson, Assistant Director, Campus Services, Northumbria University, added: “The launch of the Mobike Scheme is fantastic news for the city and Northumbria University is proud that through our involvement we are able to offer this opportunity to our staff, students and visitors. Mobike’s arrival will encourage students and staff to swap the car and take a bike, which will support financial savings, health and wellbeing benefits and improved air quality in the city.”

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.

More information about Mobike

Watch Cllr Arlene Ainsley, Cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council talk about Mobike in this short video from YouTube:

You can find out more about Mobike on their website at mobike.com

You can download the Mobike App from the Apple App Store or Google Play.