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Meeting Seven – 13th March

Blue House & Jesmond Dene Road Working Group

Notes of the seventh meeting taken by Ali Lamb, Transport Engagement Officer, Newcastle City Council

Present: John Dales, Independent Facilitator; Graham Grant, Head of Transport Investment, Ali Lamb, Engagement Officer; Mike Scott, Nexus; Cllrs Catherine Walker (North Jesmond); Dominic Raymont (East Gosforth); Nick Cott (West Gosforth); Stella Postlethwaite (North Jesmond).

Representatives of stakeholder groups: New Cycling; Jesmond Residents Association; Save Newcastle Wildlife; Space for Gosforth, Newcastle Cycling Forum; Gosforth Traffic; Jesmond Dene Estate Residents Association; West Gosforth Residents Association; Petition; High West Jesmond Residents Association; the Five Admirals Residents Association; T&W Public Transport User Group; Open Lab, Newcastle University.

Apologies: Save our Town Moor.

Agenda Items

  1. Welcome & introductions

JD welcomed substitute representatives for Save our Newcastle Wildlife, the Cycling Forum and Space for Gosforth.

  1. Update

JD gave an update on the progress since the last meeting and noted the following:

  • Further modelling work on the junction had unfortunately not been completed because of work pressures in the team of consultants who do the modelling for the council.
  • There is also other modelling work to be commissioned – in line with points made by group members, models need to be made to assess the impact of junction design on the wider network using “S-Paramics” software and the impact of the junction design on the bus network also needs to be modelled.
  • JD feels that we do know more about the performance of various junction designs than we did in December, but not enough to make a recommendation.
  • GG gave an update on the contact with the Freemen – he submitted a report to the Stewards Committee and a full meeting in January – it presented the issues and options for providing facilities for people on foot and on bikes around the junction and some challenges around the Blue House itself. The feedback he had received suggested that the report was received without objection in both meetings.
  • Consultancy support has recently been procured by the council in support of the work of 3 new community groups – Streets for People Reference Groups in Arthur’s Hill & Fenham; Jesmond; Heaton & Ouseburn. The support comes via a company called Phil Jones Associates – the Streets for People project seeks to design and deliver neighbourhood improvements to encourage walking and cycling. JD is part of the PJA team and is working in Jesmond. Streets for People is a complementary piece of work and supports what the Blue House Group have been seeking to achieve in terms of behaviour change.

Updates from the Working Group membership:

High West Jesmond RA – at a meeting attended by 40 – 45 members, the following feedback was received:

  • HWJRA are pleased with the process and the level of engagement
  • They approve of keeping the recommendation within the footprint of the current junction
  • They would prefer to have a smaller junction and retain the Blue House
  • They support the separation of cars, cycles and people
  • They have reservations about the safety of people using paths set deeper into the Moor.
  • There are also concerns about potential light pollution if lit paths are provided to address personal safety issues.
  • There are concerns about the length of the bus lane
  • They would like to see a pedestrian crossing on Grandstand Road.
  • Overall a cautious welcome to the designs
  • In terms of ideas about Moorfield …. Some people were against the removal of parking on Moorfield because of the fear of displacement parking that may occur in other streets.
  • Not keen on making it one way at the eastern end i.e. the junction of Moorfield with JDR end.
  • They are in broad agreement but have some concerns about the left only lane to turn into Osborne Road – it has been tried before and caused tailbacks.
  • JD feels that a parking survey would be beneficial.

Jesmond Dene Estate RA –

  • Agree with HWJRA but have additional concerns about the development of the former nursery site in Jesmond Dene and egress arrangements from JDR onto Matthew Bank, need to ensure the plans are connected.

Five Admirals RA –

  • Also agrees with HWJRA but also stresses support for the retention of traffic lights to control the turn from Moorfield into JDR and would like to see a crossing at the La Sagesse corner.

West Gosforth RA-

  • More support for the smaller roundabout and the retention of the Blue House
  • Support safe crossing points
  • Retain connectivity between neighbourhoods – no banned movements
  • Urge the council not to plan to accommodate increased traffic.

Reducing Traffic Demand

As previously stated, reducing the demand for travel by car through the junction by around 10% in the peaks would enable relatively compact junction designs to handle the predicted 2031 traffic flows safely.

In order to achieve this level of reduction, it will be vital that the attractiveness of bus services is improved, and this means there should be good bus priority on approach to the junction. Nexus (MS) will be involved in discussions to ensure that the correct modelling occurs in public transport terms.

Group members are curious about possible plans to expand the Metro network for example up to Cramlington. MS confirms that the metro extension under consideration is along the Ashington, Blyth & Tyne light Railway

JD cautioned the group against over-estimating the council’s powers in terms of public transport reform and improvements.

GG noted that the council is supporting the Metro renewal programme to replace tracks and refurbish metro cars and is also working with partners including Nexus to look at securing funding for a new fleet of Metro cars and considering extensions to the Metro where the priority is on a light rail extension on the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne line rather than to Cramlington. Newcastle is also working with others to examine the potential for expansion at Park and Rides.

MS confirmed that the metro extension under consideration is along the Ashington, Blyth & Tyne light Railway

A group member noted that currently it is not reasonable to expect the council to influence public transport massively but under the Bus Services Bill, the council could have more powers. It is not possible to model the impact of the Bill, but it could ultimately have an impact on the volume of traffic on the network.

A group member said that the expected growth in driverless and electric cars could also mean that a larger roundabout is redundant in the future and asks whether the council would be required to return the funding if it chose the smaller design.

JD explained that the scheme funding is dependent on the design delivering the required benefits for all road users as outlined earlier in the process.

A group member stated that Gosforth High Street doesn’t need any more bus services – there is already over provision, so the investment in the Metro network is preferable.

There are issues to be resolved with the fare structure and zones on the metro network in Gosforth – Regent Centre and South Gosforth are in different zones. Metro travel is very expensive for families travelling shorter distances.

The Park & Ride at the Regent Centre is under used – it needs to be promoted.

Some group members felt that Ilford Road Metro Station had become a popular park & ride – how much traffic going through Blue House is generated by the Ilford Road Metro users?

JD concluded that all these points will make a valid contribution towards addressing the target of reducing the predicted traffic demand by around 10% before 2031 but so too would people to change their current travel behaviour.

Group Work – table discussions about junction designs …

  • 2 & 3 lane conventional roundabouts and ‘triangle’ (Moorfield, Ilford Road and JDR) proposals
  • Both plans require further modelling

Clarification on the trees – some trees are earmarked on the plan for removal, they are either dead or dying. There are also a few trees within the garden of the Blue House that are not part of the avenues and had not been surveyed because they are within the property boundaries.

Group Feedback

The Triangle proposals (Moorfield, Ilford Road and JDR) –

  • Why not create cycle tracks along Moorfield at the top of the triangle? That would require the removal of parking and the street has relatively low traffic so it could be considered to be unnecessary. The route would certainly be signed.
  • One reported their reservations about Moorfield being a safe cycle route given the current volume of traffic using it.
  • What about the connectivity of the cycle route onto Matthew Bank – this will be a popular route and safe integration with the traffic going down the bank is needed.
  • The number of lanes along JDR was discussed – 2 lanes are squeezed in now when vehicle size allows but there are issues at the top of Osborne Road – Left turn only lane discussed.
  • Better signals could give options to stack queuing traffic further back from Osborne Road junction – at Moorfield / JDR junction for example.
  • The performance of the Moorfield / Ilford Road junction was discussed – could a 4 way give way work? Are there options for a pedestrian / cycle crossing?
  • Generally, there is question about how best to connect two-way cycle tracks back into normal traffic flow – not yet resolved but clearly the design of this junction would be important.

Roundabout proposals –

Group asked to review and comment on the following features:

  • The position of footpaths and cycle paths
  • Whether paths should be located within the tree line or not
  • How best to protect the trees
  • The choice of materials

Comments included:

  • The paths when it’s dark – existing street lights would provide safety and security on paths next to the road but paths deeper in the Moor would need additional lighting.
  • Making the paths next to the road shared areas might overcome this.
  • Cycles are best placed away from the road, cyclists falling off would be safer deeper into the Moor rather than next to the road.
  • A group member feels that the proposed cycle paths are far enough away from the houses to make lighting them acceptable to local residents.
  • Putting paths between the trees is attractive but there may be issues with leaf fall and delivering the routes in these areas in terms of protecting tree roots.
  • The Blue house was discussed – there are different views on its history and purpose, local value and options for its future.
  • Flooding issues and opportunities to address flooding in the immediate area.
  • Trees and replanting opportunities.
  • Choice of materials for new paths – recycled tyres and other materials were discussed – the group would like to see some samples.

Next Meeting

Monday 24th April 2017, 5.30 for 6pm, Committee Room, Civic Centre

Meeting postponed due the pre-election period for the General Election – it was reconvened after the election.

Residents’ group survey on traffic choices at Blue House roundabout

The five residents’ groups represented on the Blue House roundabout carried out a survey of their members during January, to establish their views on whether they would be motivated to switch from car use to an alternative means of travel.

Open Lab at Newcastle University has kindly assisted with the analysis of the survey which you can find on the website, there were nearly 300 responses.

You can see the analysis of the survey here.


Meeting Six – 12th December

Blue House & Jesmond Dene Road Working Group

Monday 12th December 2016

Notes of the sixth meeting taken by Ali Lamb, Transport Engagement Officer, Newcastle City Council

Present: John Dales, Independent Facilitator; Graham Grant, Head of Transport Investment, Ali Lamb, Engagement Officer; Mike Scott, Nexus; Cllrs Catherine Walker (North Jesmond); Dominic Raymont (East Gosforth); Nick Cott (West Gosforth); Stella Postlethwaite (North Jesmond) govwnsq.

Representatives of stakeholder groups: New Cycling; Jesmond Residents Association; Save Newcastle Wildlife; Space for Gosforth, Newcastle Cycling Forum; Gosforth Traffic; Jesmond Dene Estate Residents Association; West Gosforth Residents Association; Petition; High West Jesmond Residents Association; the Five Admirals Residents Association; T&W Public Transport User Group; Save our Town Moor; Open Lab, Newcastle University.

Plans and documents examined in the meeting: 

Gosforth-Jesmond Dene Junction Proposal

Blue House Junction Turbo Roundabout Proposal

Blue House Junction cycle roots and branches proposal

Blue House Junction performance data summary

Blue House blank map

Agenda Items

  1. Welcome & introductions

JD welcomed substitute representatives for Save our Newcastle Wildlife and the Cycling Forum and noted the apologies.

  1. Communications and web Site

Researchers from Open Lab were seeking feedback on the website …. How well has the web site and resources worked for the group members and their wider memberships, how has the web site been received by the general public?

Comments included:

  • Mixed reactions to the illustrated minutes of meetings – in particular the new animated version to music was criticised – some people felt that it trivialised the work of the group and was too simplistic. The music accompanying the animations seemed particularly unpopular.
  • Some people in the group would prefer a static image.
  • Compliments for the web site and resources have also been made and it was noted that buying in such resources commercially would be very expensive.
  • Everyone is grateful to the university for giving their time and skills free of charge to the working group – this is a University funded research project.
  • The plans and diagrams are difficult to locate because they are posted with the notes from a particular meeting – it would be better to have all the plans and drawings in one place.
  • The web site is well used and great resource for the already engaged – the issue is how to engage with the excluded and the web site is not really achieving this.
  • The illustrated minutes are one way of trying to increase the accessibility of the material on the web site – different age groups have different preferences for the way they prefer to access material – younger people tend to prefer video over written reports. Maintaining a variety is important.
  • The model images and formats that have been used to create the illustrated minutes (the asset bank) will be posted on the web site. Any group members interested are welcome to use them to make their own posters or annotate notes and newsletters.
  • The comments feature on the web site was discussed …. Members of the public can leave comments and ask questions but the management of the feature is proving to be difficult. The comments can be wide ranging and it’s difficult for an individual to reply on behalf of the group or to bring the comments forward for the whole group’s attention. CC & AL will compose a reply to each of the comments to acknowledge the contribution and explain how the comments will be used by the group. CC will collate and catalogue the comments so they are more accessible to the group and can be discussed at pertinent times during the process of refining the recommendation.
  • Open Lab were congratulated and thanked for their work on the web site.
  • The next stage of development of the web site will be to consider how it can be used in the engagement of the wider public going forward – a suggestion was made about a video being made which distils the learning and process the working group have been through, this will benefit people outside the working group better understand their recommendations.
  1. Jesmond Dene Road Junctions

JD tabled a revised drawing and highlighted various features of the proposal which he would like the small groups to discuss and feedback on:

  • the addition of a crossing at the Friday Fields ‘Cut’ and
  • the widened footways on the north side of JDR which would offer the opportunity of bi directional cycling
  • signals at or around the junction of Moorfield / JDR – either a single pelican crossing on JDR just after the junction, so drivers would need to look for gaps in the flow and or take advantage of the gaps created by the pelican, or, the junction could be fully signalised as it is now
  • The pros and cons of one way traffic over the metro bridge at Moorfield.
  • A commitment to a pedestrian crossing at the top of Osborne Road.
  • The opportunities for creating better cycling conditions on JDR – particularly around the JDR metro bridge.

Small group feedback – Comments and ideas included:

  • Removing the parking on the east side of Moorfield and replacing it with a cycle lane (a suggestion that isn’t supported by the High West Jesmond Residents Association rep).
  • Making Moorfield one way (a suggestion that isn’t supported by the High West Jesmond Residents Association rep).
  • The proposal to remove the traffic light between Moorfield and JDR was strongly opposed in one group’s feedback. They want the traffic light to be retained and be demand-driven through detecting motor vehicles.
  • Create cycling facilities on both sides of JDR rather than the bi directional facilities suggested by the plan.
  • Build a new pedestrian / cycling bridge over the Metro at the top of Osborne Road on the south side of the existing bridge.
  • Could more space be identified along JDR between the Metro Bridge and the Moorfield by taking out the hedge and a strip of land from the allotments?
  • Could the ‘triangle’ of Moorfield and Ilford Road be accepted by cyclists as an alternative to the more direct JDR route?
  • A group member commented that they would need to understand more about the cycling flows and popular routes from all directions before reaching a view on whether bi directional on one side or directional facilities on both sides of JDR is best.
  • Maps of the local area showing existing cycle routes – strategic and local were shared to help this part of the discussion.
  • The maps were well received and it was noted that this kind of map showing routes within residential neighbourhoods would be helpful for the Cycling Strategy’s refresh next year.
  • There is a debate to be had about what would make the most difference to cycling in neighbourhoods – better infrastructure and or better signage.
  1. Comparative performance data for different junction styles

A summary paper of the most recent modelling data was shared.

The results show that the current junction arrangement at Blue House delivers reasonable efficiency, but the efficiencies are made at the expense of safety, i.e. no walking or cycling facilities.

A large conventional roundabout performs poorly going forward.

A Turbo roundabout provides better performance than the conventional one.

The best performance is delivered by a signalised crossroads with 2 banned movements – using the same footprint as the existing arrangement but at the expense of some trees.

JD commented that the model didn’t show a great deal of difference in performance between the designs and also JD has some reservations about the assumptions on which the modelling has been made. More modelling work is required.

Small group work to discuss the pros and cons of the junction designs referencing the assessment criteria established earlier in the working group process.

Comments following the small group work from one of the 3 groups:

  • Relocating the Blue house would improve the visibility at the junction
  • The turbo option is safer because it offers better lane discipline, cycling facilities and crossing points – it happens to handle higher traffic volumes as well.
  • Connected traffic lights are important to the success of any solution, they can help to smooth and regulate speeds by creating green waves and dis-incentivising speeding by impeding progress with red lights.
  • It is important that we don’t place the emphasis on better traffic performance when discussing the junction solutions – people want to see less traffic and city planning needs to reflect and support this position.
  1. Some members of the working group believe that better traffic performance is an extremely important consideration and should be a key indicator of a successful junction).
  1. Next Steps

In terms of the predicted traffic flows in our modelling … what can we recommend / explore to reduce the demand?

JD summarised the areas of emerging consensus in the working group – the new junction should be at the current location, there should be little or no tree loss, better walking and cycling facilities are essential, and, there is an acceptance that the Blue House itself may be required in terms of space.

GG will prepare a paper for the next full meeting of the Freemen in January 2017 to explain the key issues for replacing the junction including cycling and walking paths within the tree line and the potential for the footprint of the Blue House. GG will copy the paper to the Working Group.

JD will start to write a paper to collate the work that the working group have done and record the process.

GG & JD will work up more detailed traffic modelling on options and look at variations, for example, more lanes on the turbo roundabout; a larger conventional roundabout; the addition of cycling and pedestrian facilities to the current layout.

JD will provide these extras to the Working Group in advance of the next meeting at the end of January.

The Working Group are asked to take some work back to their groups – to start discussions and generate ideas about what the council might do to change the travel habits of commuters and other travellers in order to ensure that the predicted demand forecasted in the models, does not emerge. Basically, it boils down to how to lose 400 car trips to keep demand in 2031 to the same levels as 2016.

Group members were also asked to take blank locality maps and highlight the streets that are current rat-runs in the area.

  1. Next meeting

Tbc – end of January 2017

Meeting Five – 28th of November

Blue House & Jesmond Dene Road Working Group

Monday 28th November 2016

Notes of the fifth meeting taken by Ali Lamb, Transport Engagement Officer, Newcastle City Council

Present: John Dales, Independent Facilitator; Graham Grant, Head of Transport Investment, Ali Lamb, Engagement Officer; Mike Scott, Nexus; Cllrs Catherine Walker (North Jesmond); Dominic Raymont (East Gosforth); Nick Cott (West Gosforth); Stella Postlethwaite (North Jesmond).

Representatives of stakeholder groups: New Cycling; Jesmond Residents Association; Save Newcastle Wildlife; Space for Gosforth, Newcastle Cycling Forum; Gosforth Traffic; Jesmond Dene Estate Residents Association; West Gosforth Residents Association; Petition; High West Jesmond Residents Association; the Five Admirals Residents Association; T&W Public Transport User Group; Save our Town Moor; Open Lab, Newcastle University.

Agenda Items

  1. Welcome & introductions

Welcomes were extended by JD and he referred to the paper that some group members had received on email from Nick Brown MP’s office. It was apparent that only some of the group had received the paper, no one was clear how the email addresses had been accessed given that the council had explained to the MP’s office that any papers for distribution to the group must come to the council to be shared – under the data protection rules the council would never share personal contact details with a 3rd party.

It was agreed that AL would circulate the paper to the whole group and that a discussion about the contents would be deferred until the next meeting.

  1. Proposed changes to speed limits

GG gave a short presentation to describe the proposed changes to the speed limits along the Great North Road, these proposals represent a holistic approach to the whole length, from Blue House to the North Brunton Interchange.

The proposals are a mixture of 20 to 40mph stretches depending on the conditions – the most built up stretches attracting a 20mph limit and the most open, a 40mph limit. The proposals have been through a technical consultation with the emergency services, bus operators and decision makers. The next stage is a formal consultation which includes the general public and those people who are directly affected – this is likely to be after Christmas.

Q: Will the council be modelling the impact of the proposed speed reductions on the function of Blue House?

GG agrees to have a look at this idea.

There is speculation about the impact and effectiveness of speed reductions and it was noted that signs are only part of the picture, the design and enforcement are also crucial in supporting speed reduction.

Group members suggest that they believe that speed contributes to the collision statistics at Blue House.

Enforcement is a key issue and GG points out the council does not have the powers to enforce moving traffic offenses – the police have responsibility for that.

A group member questioned whether 20mph zones were enforceable? JD said that they were as long as they were signed properly. GG remarked that the issue can sometimes be one of resources and priorities. The police and the council do meet regularly to agree priorities.

Q: Could average speed cameras be a tool in enforcing the speed restrictions?

In conclusion, JD states that he believes the speed reductions are a positive contribution to the redesign of the Blue House.

  1. Review of performance data for junction options considered to date

JD introduced the paper he had prepared with the modelling data for the 3 different junctions the groups have previously considered.  In summary, the data showed that Design 1 (a simple turbo roundabout, considered at the BHWG on 31 October – some tree loss) does not perform well in the short or long term (which assumes a forecasted 10% growth in traffic, which can, however, be questioned) , Design 2 (the large oval roundabout, also considered by BHWG on 31 October – excessive tree loss therefore disregarded) performs slightly better in the short term but much worse in the long term; Design 3 (a conventional circular roundabout considered by BHWG on 14 November – no tree loss) performs ok for the current demand at am peak times, slightly less well at pm peak times but struggles in the peak times in 2031 if the forecasted growth in demand occurs.

JD suggests that the group start to look at back-casting rather than forecasting – establishing what the tolerances are in terms of delays and then translating that to look at the performance of the junction.

Q: How are delays on public transport measured?

A: The model does allow for the bus movements to be extracted.

It was also noted that in order to advantage buses, although they will need to wait at the junction, they must have a means to get to the front of the queue.

Q: Do the modelling figures include the impact of the crossings and the inevitable delays when they are used?

A: No, the figures don’t include crossings and each time they are called, a new source of delay will be introduced. However, there are ways of minimising the delay for example, never allowing full red on all 4 approaches at the same time.

Q: How does the performance of the junction options described affect the other pinch points in the network?

A: The modelling hasn’t been done yet on the network as a whole but JD will get it done.

The group would like give consideration to what length of time is an acceptable delay and how time of day might affect those tolerances.

It was noted that the consequence of delays must also be considered, that is that delays will lead to rat running through residential streets.  JD remarks that this is the genius of cities – the fact that people have options, they may change their route, and they may change their time or mode of travel.  Supporting a variety of choices such as walking or cycling might be a contribution to managing growth and retaining capacity at peak times.

It is acknowledged that currently, there aren’t any delays outside of peak hours. It was also pointed out that we don’t have any representatives of non-residential users of the junction who are affected by the performance and capacity and don’t have an option to change their journey plans or modes. NCC has a duty to consider the needs of all users’, not just residents.

Q: Will Blue House and Haddricks be delivered at the same time?

A: No decision has been taken as yet but the group will be asked to express a view as to what is preferable – more disruption but less time to do, less disruption but a longer working period.

A group member agreed that the council had to consider the needs of all users but suggested that the total journey time is the important factor for NCC to look at.

Q: Do speed limits affect delays?

A: To a certain extent but ultimately delays occur at junctions rather than on links.

  1. Consideration of a new roundabout layout for Blue House junction

JD tabled a plan which had been developed after discussing options with the Freeman in terms of land use to facilitate cycling and walking facilities and options for relocating the resident of the Blue House itself, demolishing the building and using the footprint for the junction improvements.

The proposal uses a type of turbo roundabout design and delivers encouraging performance figures on all peak times and future forecasts.

After a period table based discussions and questions, JD asks the group to agree to further developmental work on this option.

Q: Why are we spending time on this option when it appears to deliver very little advantage now and greater advantage in the future but the long term aim is to have far less traffic?

  1. Consideration of proposals for Jesmond Dene Road junctions

A plan was shared that tidy’s up the existing layouts, smartens the junctions and introduces at pedestrian crossing at the top of Osborne Road. A new crossing is proposed at the La Sagesse development, the left turn into Osborne Road from JDS becomes left only and all traffic signals are upgraded and connected to work together.

A table discussion followed and various issues were raised with JD and GG. There were questions about provision for cycling to clarify where it was. Comment was made that it needed to be of a high enough quality to attract new users and better thought through to enable it to link adequately with surrounding area and a wider network.

  1. Actions
  • JD compile comparative figures for the 3 junctions in the frame in order to help the process of moving towards a recommendation
  • JD will produce more information about how the 3 potential junctions would operate within the network
  • Group members are invited to share the information with their networks after the usual 3 day period.

A group member reminded everyone that a discussion about modal shift is outstanding and JD assured that the back-casting discussion next time would encompass modal shift and behaviour change. It was also raised that there may be need for a least one more working group meeting in view of the complex issues arising from nearby changes other than to the roundabout itself.

Next meeting

Monday 12th December 2016 – 5.30 for a 6pm start

Additional documentation

Click on the following link for the option for the Jesmond Dene / Osborne Road junction improvement.

Image below – the new proposed plan.

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Meeting Four – 14th November


Blue House & Jesmond Dene Road Working Group

Monday 14th November 2016

Notes of the fourth meeting taken by Ali Lamb, Transport Engagement Officer, Newcastle City Council

Present: John Dales, Independent Facilitator; Graham Grant, Head of Transport Investment, Ali Lamb, Engagement Officer; Mike Scott, Nexus; Cllrs Catherine Walker (North Jesmond); Dominic Raymont (East Gosforth); Nick Cott (West Gosforth); Stella Postlethwaite (North Jesmond).

Representatives of stakeholder groups: New Cycling; Jesmond Residents Association; Save Newcastle Wildlife; Space for Gosforth, Newcastle Cycling Forum; Gosforth Traffic; Jesmond Dene Estate Residents Association; West Gosforth Residents Association; Petition; High West Jesmond Residents Association; the Five Admirals Residents Association; T&W Public Transport User Group; Save our Town Moor; Open Lab, Newcastle University.

Agenda Items

  1. Welcome & introductions

JD welcomed everyone to the meeting and introductions followed because there were a couple of new representatives attending to cover for absences.

  1. Tree Survey

Discussion points:

JD introduced a tree survey which had been undertaken between April and August this year. The survey is a condition survey of each tree completed to British Standards by arboriculturalists, the trees surveyed have also been plotted on a map.

820 trees were surveyed, 38 are currently at risk because they are dying, dead, damaged or diseased.

A number of questions were raised, the answers have been added to these notes after the meeting:

Q: What would happen to the trees identified as ‘at risk’ normally and when?

A: The at risk trees would be reported to the Arbor squad and they would schedule appropriate work – pruning or removal

Q: Would the survey have been completed anyway or was it prompted by the proposed highway works?

A: The survey is part of a full Town Moor Tree Survey, there are over 3,000 trees around the Moor and the management plan is being updated as a result.

Q: Some trees are designated ‘remove’ and some are designated ‘recommended remove’ – what is the difference?

A: ‘Remove’ is a definite instruction for the tree to be felled, ‘recommended remove’ suggested fell but also a request for a second opinion before that is done.

  1. Amendments / comments about the notes of the last meeting

Amendment to the reported collision figures from the meeting notes from 31.10.16 – figures should read between June 2010 and June 2016 there were 75 collisions which resulted in 115 injuries.

It was also noted that the notes did not convey the level of positive feeling about retaining the open space and trees in the area rather than expanding the profile of the junction that came out of the small group work … that is largely attributable to the fact that the small group work wasn’t recorded in the notes and that each group was supposed to send their findings in to be added after the meeting.

The drawn record of the meeting also misses out the group work because they were inspired by the written notes.

Web site comments – people are posting comments on the web site but there is no one to take on the responsibility of pulling the replies together. It was agreed that the best thing to do is to put a statement together to let anyone who posts know that their views are being noted and fed into the working group – CC

  1. Collisions data

The comparison figures requested at the last meeting were tabled for reference, they show the collision data for 40 junctions compared on a rolling average.

They show that Blue House has risen from 19th worst in Tyne & Wear to the worst and or second worst in the last 3 years.

Q: When does the period that data is collected start and finish

A: Data is compiled on a monthly basis and presented in 5 year clusters – the last data set that our figures relate too was collected in August 2016.

Q: The data suggests that there was a rapid increase in collisions at Blue House 5 years ago – did something happen at the junction to cause this? For example, is that when the 2 lane right turns were introduced?

A: Traffic Management team have said that there have been no significant changes in road markings at the junction for over 8 years – google maps from 2008 shows the road markings to be the same as they are today with the only change being the refreshed paint in 2012. They have also commented that the police’s accident investigation would have identified road layout problems and changes would have been demanded as a result.

Q: Can we rely on historical comparisons between junctions to indicate the danger that a junction poses? Wouldn’t absolute numbers be a better indication? Also, the map of the location of the collisions shows that some of them are on the approaches not at the actual junction.

A: The collisions mapped are within 50m of the junction. We weren’t actually asked to provide the absolute numbers of collisions, we were asked to compare Blue House to other junctions in the City. But we do have some data about collisions at similar capacity junctions in the region which will be shared and shows that in absolute numbers, Blue House far exceeds similar junctions in the area.

Comment: Some of the most dangerous junctions have the fewest accidents because people try to avoid them.

  1. Growth Assumptions and turning counts – presentation by GG

The presentation shows graphically how the capacity of the junction was tested at different times of the day in 2015.

It was noted that the width of the lanes in the vicinity is below current standards. In terms of producing a reliable growth forecast, the method involves collecting data from ANPR (Automatic number plate recognition) cameras, turning counts and queue counts and adding them into a computer model to forecast how they will grow – the findings are validated by a localised model that compares them to what is currently happening. It was pointed out that the queue information, although valuable, does not show the extent to which delays were occurring slightly further ahead at nearby bottlenecks, and therefore does not give a full picture of the impact on journey times.

The data for this forecast was collected over the course of one week.

The council accepts that currently we don’t have a queueing problem outside of the peak hours. It was also noted that human behaviour leads to peak time spreading – that is people changing the time they make their journey – a little earlier or later or finding alternative routes to avoid queues. People prefer to keep moving even if the journey time ends up being the same.

ANPR records show that the popular traffic patterns within the area have been confined to the main roads thus far.

Comment: The queue lengths shown in the model seem to be much shorter than the experience of those travelling around the junction at peak times. One explanation suggested is that the queue lengths are averaged over a peak period, meaning that the time-spans of longer queues would be quite short.

Q: Does the model account for pinch points along the approaches? Most residents believe that congestion is generated away from the junction.

A: It is agreed that queues do build up at the lights on the approaches to the junction but once the traffic gets there, the roundabout has no way of managing the flow that comes on to it.

Q: What is the tipping point or tolerance for queue lengths?

A: The policy is to keep traffic on the roads that are designed to carry it and out of residential streets which are for access.

Q: Is it possible to use network planning to divert traffic away from Blue House and onto roads like the Coast Road? Or let the queues and congestion build so that people will decide to use public transport or other travelling methods instead….. 

Anticipating Growth – the National Trip End Model predicts growth in car ownership. Currently 42% of households in Newcastle don’t have access to a car but in some areas more than 60% of households do – the most deprived areas have the lowest car ownership. The model also looks at housing growth across the region to predict the increase in population – the council have used the lowest predicted growth figures for this scenario.

JD comments that the data shows that our travel time and the number of trips are remarkably constant – the way we travel means that we can travel further, faster, by car as opposed to travelling by public transport, walking or cycling.

Q: when will the working group look at how to change travel patterns and preferences … will the group challenge travel choices?

JD comments that national traffic forecasts predict growth but they are rarely reliable.

Group members raise the idea of back casting to assess the reliability of forecasting …

Also, the issues of climate change and air pollution have taken on a greater significance after the recent government court case. JD remarks that the future isn’t written and that better air quality, economic and personal health, congestion etc. are all linked to political decision making.

One of the working group members presented a proposal to introduce better cycling provision around the junction linking the improvements in the city centre north, up the Great North Road and into Gosforth …the proposals brings together the good support that the small groups seemed to share last time for better walking and cycling provision.

  1. Assessment of possible new layout

JD presented a junction proposals that had been worked up by his team, to deliver on concerns and issues such as better lane discipline, tighter turns, preserving trees, better provision for walking and cycling …. The design shows a simple roundabout with a bigger central circle and fewer lanes (which means that it has lower capacity).

The working group worked in small groups to assess this proposal using their previously determined criteria and assessment tools.

The Headline feedback:

Positives – preserves trees, slower and safer

Negatives – lower capacity (modelling still to be done), 2 stage crossings with poor air quality on islands in the traffic – less frequent green time for pedestrians can improve the capacity – JD will get some timings.

Some members weren’t convinced that cycling provision was needed on both sides of the GNR and noted that the location of the crossings would have an impact on the traffic flow.

However, crossings for all modes are an important feature on all legs and provision for buses is also important.

  1. Any other business

The group were told that the council have prepared a paper for the next Cabinet meeting on the 21st November where they are requesting to apply for planning permission for the Haddricks Mill and Killingworth Road proposals …. The Cabinet report references the Blue House working group and the redesign of the junction in the business case for the funding for Haddricks Mill. An indicative design has been included in the business case, it is not a design that is being progressed, it is an example as required for the funding bid to progress.

Next meeting

Monday 28th November 2016 – 5.30 for a 6pm start.

For additional supporting documents click on the links below.

Bill Dodds’ proposal to enhance provision of cycling

John Dale’s team new junction design proposal (work in progress)

Meeting Three – 31 October

Blue House & Jesmond Dene Road Working Group

Monday 31st October 2016

Notes of the third meeting taken by Ali Lamb, Transport Engagement Officer, Newcastle City Council

Present: John Dales, Independent Facilitator; Graham Grant, Head of Transport Investment, Ali Lamb, Engagement Officer; Open Lab, Newcastle University. Cllrs Catherine Walker (North Jesmond); Dominic Raymont (East Gosforth); Nick Cott (West Gosforth); Stella Postlethwaite (North Jesmond). Mike Scott, Nexus.

Representatives of stakeholder groups: NewCycling; Jesmond Residents Association; Save Newcastle Wildlife; Space for Gosforth, Newcastle Cycling Stakeholders Forum; Gosforth Traffic; Jesmond Dene Estate Residents Association; West Gosforth Residents Association; Petition; High West Jesmond Residents Association; the Five Admirals Residents Association; T&W Public Transport User Group; Save our Town Moor.

Agenda Items

JD welcomed everyone to the meeting and apologised for the late circulation of the papers. Other communication issues were discussed including the length of time between meetings when the group are in a collaborative but challenging period when good communication is so important. JD suggested that an additional meeting in 2 weeks’ time would be better than communicating using posts on the web site …meetings are a better way of exploring complex information and appreciating different points of view. JD noted that an extra meeting had also been added onto the end of the scheduled meetings, so all in all, the programme had gone from 4 to 6 meetings and the door was always open for others if they are needed.

It was agreed that an additional meeting on Monday 14th November would be arranged AL

Discussion points:

Discussion points;

Questions for clarification before the assessment session began:

Observations from the table sessions revealed that there were very similar discussions at each one – congestion; safety; provision for walking and cycling; protection of moorland.

Feedback sheets were collected and JD asked that any other feedback/comments be emailed to him.

Design 1 – A signalised crossroads with all movements possible

Design 2 – A signalised crossroads with some restricted movements

Design 3 – A compact roundabout or ‘turbo’ roundabout

Design 4 – A conventional roundabout

JD shared estimates on the number of trees that would be affected by each of the 4 options – to be circulated by JD

Next Meeting – Monday 14th November 2016, 5.30 for a 6pm start.

A message from Chi Onwurah

I am so pleased to see the working group is in place with terms of reference and a plan for how to proceed.

The town hall meeting at Gosforth Trinity Church highlighted to me just how much residents wanted an opportunity to have their say, and make their voices heard. The image above shows the main themes from the individual feedback forms we received during and after the event. I will be posting a full report of this on my website soon. I will also make that available on this website.

It was a lively meeting and I was delighted so many came and participated, even if at times it was difficult to ensure all voices were heard.  I hope the Bluehouse Group can take forward the enthusiasm and determination to make the city a better place to live for everybody.

It is important that Newcastle City Council listens to the recommendations the group presents, and equally important that the Bluehouse Group are speaking on behalf of the wider communities involved in the consultation. This is an opportunity for people to get involved at the early stages of consultation, the most important time, when it is really possible to have an effect on the outcomes. It would be a great shame if some parts of the community were not represented in this.  I know that there are many different ways of ensuring participation and my office is working with Digital Civics to look at how the web can be used to share thoughts and ideas. I hope the Bluehouse Group can be part of this.

Developing plans for regeneration or change is a complex and multifaceted process, as well as something that needs sensitivity to a range of issues, and I’m sure we can all appreciate that council officers have a difficult job, but that doesn’t mean we should just leave them to it!

It is important that they listen to the views, ideas, and concerns of residents and take this into consideration when making decisions that affect people’s lives in many ways.

For my part, I will follow closely what the group publishes on this website, and do my part to make sure the Council carry out what they said they would do.

Hopefully this is a successful model for consultation that can be replicated throughout the city to hold the council to account on a range of decision-making processes.

Meeting Two – 3rd October

Blue House & Jesmond Dene Road Working Group

Monday 3rd October 2016

Notes of the second meeting taken by Ali Lamb, Transport Engagement Officer, Newcastle City Council

Present: John Dales, Independent Facilitator; Graham Grant, Head of Transport Investment, Ali Lamb, Engagement Officer; Mike Scott, Nexus; Cllrs Catherine Walker (North Jesmond); Dominic Raymont (East Gosforth) & Nick Cott (West Gosforth)

Representatives of stakeholder groups: New Cycling; Jesmond Residents Association; Save Newcastle Wildlife; Space for Gosforth, Newcastle Cycling Forum; North Jesmond Councillors; Gosforth Traffic; Jesmond Dene Estate Residents Association; West Gosforth Residents Association; Petition; High West Jesmond Residents Association; the Five Admirals Residents Association; Open Lab, Newcastle University.

Apologies: Newcastle Youth Parliament; T&W Public Transport User Group; Save our Town Moor.

Agenda Items

  1. Welcome & introductions

John welcomed everyone to the meeting – especially those attending for the first time. Introductions went around the table and included the visitors from the University’s Open Lab, attending to support communication process

Clara from Open Lab talked about the offer from the Lab including talking heads video clips … no one from the group felt ready to take up the offer just now. The Team had also created a web site resource for the group and already documents and links were being posted there – group members as well as the council are welcome to share resources on the platform. Some group members had not got the first email containing the link to the draft web site sent out last Thursday so circulation lists will need to be checked. Clara is also looking into the best way to create a more private group messaging blog – a google group or similar – to allow group members to discuss topics outside of meetings. – Action CC & AL

  1. Representation & Reporting Protocols

In order to promote transparency and openness, JD suggested that each representative wrote a short statement to outline the purpose of their group, who it represents, how it is constituted and the reporting process to the widest membership and their process for gathering their feedback and reactions to the work of this group. JD accepts that there will be great differences in the methods and the numbers of people being contacted, however, what’s important is that it’s clear how people get in touch with their local reps if they need to. Together with a generic email address, the process notes will be posted on the working group’s web site.

It is important that the working group can demonstrate its connections with the wider community, percolating the information and challenges that are discussed here and bringing information back to help build collective opinions and views.

It’s noted and accepted that each group works in slightly different ways, it’s just important to be able to find a way of bringing some feedback to the working group. Gosforth traffic for example, have organised a survey that will provide information on a range of travel related issues – the findings will be shared via AL.

  1. Working Group Communications

If any group would like any support with communications in their community, the Open Lab are happy to help.

The notes of the working group meeting were discussed – not everyone thought that they represented all the discussion points raised and there are also different versions of notes being posted by members of the working group.

In particular, the discussion about the number of meetings planned ahead for the working group was not recorded. This discussion was part of the agenda item about the terms of reference and there is an outstanding action to rewrite them to reflect the issues raised by the working group members.

It was agreed that, AL will continue to take notes (not minutes) and that they will be circulated to the group as soon as possible after the meeting for comments and amendments. 3 days after they were circulated, they will be posted on the web site, group members will continue to make and share notes as usual. Action AL

The status of the web site, the information carried on it and the responsibilities of reps to their members was discussed.

Action AL & CC to meet to discuss and refine process issues and explain and relaunch the google group for internal group comms.

  1. Review of Junction Options

Some of the group felt that it was too soon to be looking at junction designs and that they would like more information and a better understanding of the background and context before embarking on it, for example, detailed information on accident types, traffic types and origin destination surveys.

JD appreciates the point but maintains that this exercise is simply to gauge reaction to different junction types and establish the kind of information that group members would find most useful in making their assessments of the relative advantages and disadvantages that different designs present.

Group members want to find out more about the rationale for making any changes at all because most local people want to do nothing or simply put traffic lights on the existing layout.

GG noted that the council as the Highway Authority has an obligation to act on collision data and make provision to improve road safety by correcting inadequate layouts.

Group members are concerned that layout is a convenient excuse when the council wants to make changes.

JD concludes that there is a definite relationship between design and collisions but it can be difficult to determine – the analysis of trends and patterns helps to understand the relationship.

Some typical versions of designs were shown on the screen for discussion – these designs were shown for illustrative purposes only and are not going out for consultation at this point.

* A simple signalised roundabout

One version allows all movements and turns and the other version is same design but with banned movements from Gosforth left into Jesmond Dene Road and right, from JDR towards Gosforth.

Discussion points about assessing the strengths and weaknesses of these designs:

  • Traffic Modelling – assesses whether the design can manage the demand from traffic, if traffic can’t take a route sometimes it is displaced elsewhere and sometimes it evaporates (the journeys are not taken or different modes of transport are used).
  • The group were assured that modelling takes account of the wider area – alternative crossing points and congestion on other parts of the network.
  • Traffic Lights – red lights take time away from vehicle flow and reduces efficiency. Banning turns creates time in the flow for pedestrians and cycles to cross while some vehicles are still moving in a different direction.
  • Are permanent lights actually necessary? Anecdotally, local people report that the roundabout works fine and the congestion going north is caused by Forsythe Road …
  • Concerns that banned movements at the roundabout would be a barrier to the connectivity between the mutually dependent communities of Gosforth and Jesmond.
  • JD commented that permanent lights create opportunities for crossing points which have been identified as a desirable feature for the junction, a feature that might encourage new connections between local communities because the possibility of safely walking or cycling between Gosforth and Jesmond is enabled.
  • Members of the group queried the locations of holdups, suggesting that many seemed to arise on Jesmond Dene Road, Gosforth High Street and before the right turn from Grandstand Road into Kenton – many local people feel that a faster junction won’t help with bottlenecks on the approach and exit roads from Blue House.
  • The capacity of feeder roads to the roundabout is an issue for group members – the impact of improvements to the junction can only be as great as the capacity of the feeder roads. JD explained that link roads rarely cause congestion – congestion is created at junctions where vehicles slow and stop to give way.
  • JD – The current layout just about works for drivers but it won’t continue to work if demand increases and it doesn’t work for people travelling by other modes.
  • There was disagreement amongst members as to whether better access for pedestrians and cyclists going north / south and east / west required them to be able to cross the new junction or could be provided around the sides.
  • A group member noted that there are good public transport links north to south through the junction but very poor ones east to west. It takes 2 to 3 times longer to make an east / west journey on the bus than it does by car … there will be 20,000 new homes in the future and lots more people travelling to employment sites in the east of Newcastle.
  • JD acknowledges that strategic planning is the process for managing these pressures on the infrastructure of the city and this working group has the potential to add a new facet to that – establishing the important measures of success.
  • It was noted that marking the position of the current layout on new plans is important to help orientated the viewer.

*A gyratory with filters

*A large ‘hamburger’ shaped gyratory with a bus lane through the middle.

Further discussion points:

  • The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Assurance Framework – is available on the group’s web site, it sets out the funders criteria which NCC has to satisfy in order to win the funding for our schemes. It describes the tests that designs are judged against.
  • The value of the scheme to economic prosperity is at the top of the list of most important features – group members question why that depends on the swift movement of traffic. JD confirms that for the Treasury, the growth of traffic is a key indicator of prosperity.
  • We should be discussing travel not traffic! Also pointed out that as many people are travelling on buses as there are travelling in private cars.
  • A group member commented that we need to invest in public transport to make a real difference to the number of vehicles on the roads – it needs to be more affordable, there needs to be a parking strategy because it’s cheaper to drive short distances.
  • This is part of debate about what kind of city we want to live in.
  • Is it possible to reach a consensus when we are managing conflicts between residents and commuters, between different modes of travel and between regional and national priorities?

JD put up a slide of a selection of measures or tests of the successes or failures of particular designs – they were presented as a starting point for discussion and group members are invited to consult with their own members to seek feedback and contributions to the final list of measures and tests that should be applied.

  • Compliance with adopted policies
  • Quality of provision for walking
  • Quality of provision for cycling
  • Quality of provision for buses
  • Traffic capacity / queue lengths
  • Area traffic management / knock on effects
  • Effect on safety
  • Land take and tree loss
  • Visual intrusion

Discussion points:

  • How to measure the objective versus subjective features of a design such as perceptions of feeling safe and the directness of a route through.
  • Surely air quality should be on the list?
  • Also light and sound pollution
  • What constitutes quality?
  • JD is suggesting that we use a red, amber, green system to rate the junctions in terms of the measures – sometimes there is data to support the decision, sometimes its opinion.
  • Remaining within the current footprint of the junction at Blue House when designing a new junction– for some group members this a vital criteria but not for all and therefore can’t be an agreed criteria for assessment.
  • JD asks group members to get some feedback from their wider constituencies on these criteria and to start the process applying the criteria to the designs we have available.
  • JD suggests that the group consider testing the signalised junction with banned movements against the criteria and the consultation drawing – what are the pro’s and cons of each?
  • JD will work on the drawings to add more details and make them more accessible and understandable – Action JD

Recap and close of meeting

  • Group members are requested to submit their comms processes and contact information to Ali asap
  • Notes to be circulated mid week
  • Requests for further information from NCC to Ali as and when
  • Junction type tests to be shared at next meeting

Date & time of next meeting

6pm on Monday 31st October 2016

Committee Room, Civic Centre.

At the meeting we had artist Marie-Pascel Gafinen making a graphic recording of the meeting. To view it click the link below.

Graphic Recording Meeting Two – 3 October


Meeting One Roundup

Blue House & Jesmond Dene Road Working Group

Monday 19th September 2016

Notes of the first meeting taken by Ali Lamb, Transport Engagement Officer, Newcastle City Council

Present: John Dales, Independent Facilitator; Graham Grant, Head of Transport Investment, Ali Lamb, Engagement Officer; Mike Scott, Nexus; Cllrs Stella Postlethwaite (North Jesmond); Catherine Walker (North Jesmond); Dominic Raymont (East Gosforth) & Nick Cott (West Gosforth)

Representatives of stakeholder groups: New Cycling; T&W Public Transport User Group; Jesmond Residents Association; Save Newcastle Wildlife; Space for Gosforth, Newcastle Cycling Forum; North Jesmond Councillors; Gosforth Traffic; Save our Town Moor; Jesmond dene Estate Residents Association; West Gosforth Residents Association; Petition; High West Jesmond Residents Association.

Apologies: Newcastle Youth Parliament

 Agenda Items

(NB. Subsequent discussions about internal and external group communications effect this action).

The report underpins the council’s decision to withdraw the first stage consultation designs for Blue House and Jesmond Dene Road junctions and their decision to proceed with the Haddricks Mill proposal by workshopping the challenged features of the design and working towards detailed design.  The proposals for Haddricks Mill will be the subject of further consultation.

This working group (a sub group of the Transport Forum) will be contributing to the design process of a new solution for Blue House and Jesmond Dene Road junctions, the final decision about the next design that the council will consult on, is the council’s though.

JD noted that this is an unusual process and may well have implications for the way the council approaches large infra structure schemes in the future.

Questions were asked about the funding sources for the junction improvements and the criteria for success in accessing them. The funding comes largely from the Local growth Fund, with some addition monies from our Local Transport Plan. In order to be awarded the funds, the scheme must demonstrate through a business case that it fits in with the policies of the region, that the scheme is deliverable and represents value for money. The Assurance Framework that details all of this is to be made available to the Working Group – AL will circulate (NB. Subsequent discussions about internal and external group communications effect this action).

A design to improve the junction had been taken through a consultation process in 2008 but had not made it through the Integrated Transport Authority’s selection process, to the funding challenge – the minutes of that meeting are available on line for those who are interested. The task and focus for us now are definitely looking forward.

Group members were invited to share their group’s perspectives – there were some shared themes:

Many group members were also concerned about the lack of representation of the Freemen on the Working Group – GG agreed to extend an invitation to the Freemen to the next Working Group meeting.

A whistle stop summary of the history of transport policy in the city showed how the approach that had developed dealt with the symptoms of problems rather than the root causes – e.g. approaching congestion by building more capacity on the roads rather than how to reduce the demand.

Explaining that the debates we are going to have in the Working Group are fundamentally about what sort of city do we want to live in and how are we going to achieve it. This Working Group approach has the potential to be a blueprint for the way the council approaches engagement on major schemes in the future – we need to find a way to ‘believe in better’

There were a number of discussion point flowing from the introduction:

There were a number of comments about the TOR’s which John will look at before finalising the draft:

– The working group is a sub group of the city’s Transport Forum but the TOR’s don’t reference and explain this relationship.

– Some of the key considerations seem too stringent for a group of volunteers.

Other discussion points:

Prof Patrick Olivier gave an outline of the kind of help and support that Newcastle University’s Digital Civics Team could offer to the working group.

Ideas included:

The offer from the DC Team will be refined and developed in the coming weeks and established properly for the next meeting. NB. The policy documents and resources previously discussed are probably best shared using the platform developed by the DC Team rather than emails so some timescales for sharing information may slip.

John summarised the topics covered in the meeting and thanked everyone for their time.

Monday 3rd October, 6pm in the Civic Centre