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; Change.org 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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