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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  1. If I read the notes correctly, I see that there will be NO right turn at the top of Osborne Rd into Jesmond Dene Rd.
    The consequence of this will be that those determined to exploit a Rat Run will then endeavour to turn RIGHT up Iford Rd and then right again along Moorfield to bring them back onto East going Jesmond Dene Rd.

    The blockage at the Iford Rd/Jesmond Dene Rd turning will just snarl everything up
    Congratulations on the good work of all concerned. May this set a precedent

  2. It is very good to see that an holistic approach is being taken regarding the roundabout, junctions and crossings in the area, including the new development at La Sagesse warranting a crossing.

    In taking this approach, it is now important to factor-in the outcome of the pending sale of the former Parks Department Nursery Site encapsulated within Castles Farm Road / Matthew Bank / Jesmond Dene Road / Jesmond Dene House Hotel. This site will have probably twice the number of housing units as La Sagesse (c. 100) and with typically 2 cars per unit will require an improved junction “somewhere” within the vicinity of our road planning brief.

    This will be with us in the next couple of years and well before the 2031 dateline mentioned.

    Thanks to all involved in taking forward this important piece of community engagement.

  3. Congratulations to everyone for continuing to move this forward in a constructive manner. This is an example of community cohesiveness and meaningful dialogue that hopefully will inform NCCs approach to policy development in future. I’m pleased that the group are continuing to develop a compact roundabout. The recent NICE report on health impact from traffic emissions is interesting and relevant. The news for me was that emissions are not confined to those from the tail pipe because particulates comprise tyre and brake dust from normal wear. Therefore even EVs emit particulates. The suggestions in NICE include strategies to reduce this which are to avoid excessive acceleration and braking by design that promotes flow. They suggest not only lowering speed limits but using variable speed limits to smooth flow. So with respect to the traffic experts on the group I would still contest that speed is relevant and 40mph is too fast. From Cowgate to Kingston park or Westerhope is 30mph the whole way and that is what the full length of GNR, JDR and GR should be and I would argue that a variable limit down to 10 is appropriate for GNR. Roundabouts without signals are far better than signal junction at keeping traffic flowing.

  4. Second comment from me. The proposed design. It’s nice to see there are no sacred cows however I could not see anything in any of the documentation about the impact assessment of flattening the Blue House other than relocation of the tenant. It would be helpful to know is it listed? Is it of any architectural or historic merit? Is it sound and in good repair or needing work? I think these questions need to be raised within the group as my fear is that a design is proposed to NCC and It cannot be enacted. It would be worth asking similar questions about the fountain on the other side.

  5. I would be extremely supportive of traffic lights/pedestrian crossing at the La Sagesse corner on jesmond dene road.

    The current island is on a blind bend. We regularly cross it with our children and it’s very dangerous. It’s a key pedestrian access route from the matthew bank estate into jesmond.

  6. Great to see some common sense prevail with Bluehouse – we residents need a more effective junction but that has to be balanced out against losing moorland.

    However I think the council have missed the opportunity to fix the top of Osbourne Rd (where it meets Jesmond Dene Road). Widening the lanes at the top would have made a meaningful difference. Likewise, why are all the roads at the top half of Jesmond being turned into cul de sacs – are our councillors trying to create something akin to gated communities for the richest residents in the area?

    I would like to know what will happen with the lower part of Jesmond Dene Road. If the plan is that this will become a permanent cycle route then let’s ensure that the Jesmond Nurseries site development includes a cycle lane too. At the lower end of Jesmond Dene Road this cycle route could either curve up the (almost totally unused) Reid Park Road and up to the special cycle traffic lights near Acorn Road. Alternatively it could be possible to turn part of one of the back lanes (such as Manor House Road via Hartside Gardens) into a cycle route.

    Finally, I would like to express my concern that a recent FOI response from the council online shows they are unwilling to provide all the lobbying emails sent about road closures. This would be a clear violation of the FOI Act and raises real questions about who has the ear of the decision makers. The taxpayer underwrites the cost of the changes to the roads and deserves transparency.

  7. Could you clarify plans for the junction with Moorfield and Jesmond Dene Road? By moving the pedestrian crossing away from the junction I looks like you are leaving the junction without traffic lights. If that is the case we I’ll never be able to get either in or out this way

    1. Design 3 -The conventional circular roundabout would seem to me the best option both short term and long term.
      While welcoming the introduction of traffic lights at La Sagesse on Jesmond Dene Road I am concerned at the proposed introduction of a No right turn at the top of Osborne Road into Jesmond Dene Road. This would mean that to access streets on the Matthew Bank Estate from Osborne Road it would be necessary to turn right on to Ilford Road and then right again on to Moorfield to bring drivers back on to Jesmond Dene Road. With no traffic lights at that junction build-ups would undoubtedly occur as traffic tries to merge with that coming east along Jesmond Dene Road from the Blue House roundabout. Ann

  8. Design 3 -The conventional circular roundabout would seem to me the best option both short term and long term.
    While welcoming the introduction of traffic lights at Last Sagesse on Jesmond Dene Road I am concerned at the proposed introduction of a No right turn at the top of Osborne Road into Jesmond Dene Road. This would mean that to access streets on the Matthew Bank Estate from Osborne Road it would be necessary to turn right on to Ilford Road and then right again on to Moorfield to bring drivers back on to Jesmond Dene Road. With no traffic lights at that junction build-ups would undoubtedly occur as traffic tries to merge with that coming east along Jesmond Dene Road from the Blue House roundabout. Ann

  9. The plan for Jesmond Dene Rd/Osborne Road has a number of serious problems. Moving the crossing nearer to Beatty Avenue on JDR would be further away from pedestrian/cyclist desire lines who mostly head West and South to Gosforth & Jesmond respectively. Pedestrians may risk crossing at the dangerous junction due to inconvenience.
    This proposed crossing also appears to block the driveways of 26 and 28 JDR, also causing additional exhaust fumes closer to homes from queuing traffic.
    By removing two-lane traffic westbound, road capacity of JDR is reduced unnecessarily. Right turn to Moorfield is relatively infrequent compared to westbound flows, so retaining two lanes heading west is needed to cater for both movements. More queuing and pollution otherwise.
    Similarly, the inner lane at JDR/Osborne Rd junction going West needs to cater for forward and left hand turn, otherwise traffic will build up. A couple of years ago the Council tried to limit use of this lane and abandoned it due to extra congestion.
    There is no need or justification for separate cycle path on North side of Grandstand Rd/JDR east of Blue house. Existing footpath is wide and caters for the very few cyclists along here. Most use Highbury/Little Moor route. The proposed path would likely damage the roots of mature trees along here causing them to die. Also unnecessary hard surfacing in a green verge would be highly visually unattractive.
    Removing west bound movement from Moorfield onto JDR would reduce highway capacity and increase queuing because getting from Ilford Rd to Osborne Rd isn’t possible via Ilford Rd/JDR junction during peak hours. The retention of the route from Moorfield is therefore important.
    Finally, there is an overwhelming need for replacement tree planting at Little Moor to mitigate previous felling – there are a number of big gaps – and also losses caused by future Blue House scheme. Also, some of the young trees planted alongside the Little Moor cycle/footpath have died due to a lack of after-care. No tree planting is shown on the draft plans illustrated here which must be addressed. Additional tree planting is essential to provide visual screening, ecological benefits & air quality mitigation for high levels of traffic.

  10. Just some thoughts on the layouts as outlined (without access to all relevant info) and based upon my support for a smaller footprint solution to the problem as opposed to the previously NCC published and consulted upon! Mega roundabout option:
    I disagree with the extension of the northbound GNR bus lane. This will exacerbate the problem of single lines of traffic queuing, with or without increased traffic numbers. In addition as it currently stands without this extension, there is no impact/very minimal on throughput of buses through the BHR junction. Also my experience of peak pm time here is that there is more northbound GNR to Jesmond Dene Rd traffic than that going straight up the GNR, yet this scheme suggests only 1 lane for this particular turn.
    Also the two lanes from the roundabout onto Jesmond Dene Rd appear to merge into one then back into two. Which is right? Also whilst you have indicated two lanes eastbound, there are also currently two informal lanes westbound from the Ilford Rd junction along Jesmond Dene Rd to BHR. Hopefully an enforced ‘yellow box’ at this junction will ensure clear right turns from Jesmond Dene Rd onto Ilford Rd.
    What has happened to the GNR Bus lane north of BHR? If it is to remain as is just north of the bus stop, then the suggested Toucan crossing is located directly upon the 2 lanes into 1 merging area. This will not work and if fact would place crossing pedestrians and cyclists and other motorists at risk from ‘racing’ vehicles keen to either get through the red light or get across lanes asap after the crossing. Two lanes turning left from Grandstand Rd onto the GHR also add to this issue. The same situation could potentially occur eastbound onto Jesmond Dene Rd with an as indicated two lanes merging into one immediately after the Toucan crossing.
    Will the proposed carriageway widths be able to safely allow continued on road cyclist movements? We have seen and are seeing too many schemes locally which whilst providing off road space for cyclists, albeit reducing the amount for pedestrians, reduce the carriageway width to such an extent they place cyclists in particular and motorists at increased risk. Shouldn’t we be proposing just one solution for cyclists that works for everyone of all ages and abilities, without of course resorting to the previous NCC mega roundabout scheme? Also what happens to the existing shared surface paths around this junction? Do they revert back to pedestrian only?
    And in relation to this and in particular with reference to the plan key indicating that the vast majority of trees alongside each road are ‘unaffected’, can I say that building presumably to surrounding ground level, a 3m wide? cyclepath through the middle of a narrow avenue of mature trees, will affect each and every tree. The number of ribbons currently in place would need to quadrupled if what is suggested on this scheme goes ahead, because whilst they won’t immediately die, a large percentage of their roots will be cut and removed, thereby affecting their continued growth and also increasing massively the possibility of death and/or being blown over or simply falling over. The narrower 1m wide paths on the south sides of both Grandstand and Jesmond Dene Rd have had a small effect on adjacent trees through limiting growth, but it is nothing compared to what is currently being suggested. One of the main reason for the recent opposition to the mega roundabout was its impact on the landscape of the Town Moor. Elements of the current scheme potentially do just the same.
    One of the main ongoing issues with the supposed ‘traffic improvements’ schemes across Gosforth has been the poor standard of drawings with important information missed, drawings not accurately leading into the next, as well as the deliberate exclusion of information which would ordinarily be important when consulting on a supposed detailed, worked up scheme. Please do not fall into the same trap and please ensure that the drawings are as accurate as possible with as much detail as possible given the scale and text limitations.
    Lastly in relation to the Blue House, this can simply be lifted and moved further back into the new corner behind.
    On a final note, of those groups attending the Working Group, am I correct in thinking that New Cycling is in fact one and the same as Newcastle Cycling Campaign and therefore the reference to one or the other should be removed?

  11. The existing road layout east of the Blue House roundabout works well and I’m struggling to make out the purpose and benefit from the proposed alterations to this section of road. Is it pedestrian safety, cycle provision or more efficient traffic movement? Whatever the purpose, the proposals seem entirely inconsistent.
    The existing light controlled junction at Moorfield and JDR works well for what is, I suspect, primarily local traffic. Its not clear if west bound traffic is prohibited in the proposals. If so, why? Please do not change this for the sake of ‘smartening up’ the junction.
    Similarly the proposed relocation of the pedestrian crossing would be a detrimental step both in terms of pedestrian safety as frustrated drivers access JDR and in terms of efficient traffic movement.
    The existing road layout on JDR east of this junction bteween Beatty and Sturdee also works well with additional width for residents parking, bus stops, postman drop off points etc. Why narrow it ? Pedestrian safety or improved traffic movement, or neither? I doubt there are so many pedestrians to justify this additional width which just gives some flexibility in use.
    The inner lane in the west bound approach road along JDR to Osborne Road needs to be straight on and left – the solution proposed has been tried before and failed miserably. The volume of traffic turning left into Osborne Road doesn’t justify a separate lane. Definately doesn’t facilitate traffic movement.
    Why narrow the junction from JDR onto Ilford Road? It works well at present. Whats the benefit of changing it?
    Is there really a need for an additional cycle land to the north of Grandstand Road? The existing path adequately caters for cycle and pedestrians and the loss/damage to trees does not justify this.
    Please include proposals for new and replacement tree planting, and provide for their future maintenance. The barrenness of some recent highway schemes is all too evident eg Cowgate where localised flooding has already occurred. Please don’t allow this to happen to Blue House where the contribution of the trees not only visually but also to flood control cannot be underestimated.

  12. Can someone point me towards any flow data with real numbers across/around the existing junction for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles? I’m sure its within this website somewhere but can’t seem to find it.

  13. My apologises to both New Cycling and those on the Newcastle Cycling Forum. I mis-read the meeting notes.

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