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; Change.org 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.