Newcastle, we have a problem – let’s tackle it together

We call on the council to act in accordance with their own policy for land use and transport planning: the Local Plan. For links and relevant excerpts see below. The Local Plan describes and defines the problem as well as gives solutions. We also include map overlays showing the scale of Newcastle City Council’s plans for Blue House in relation to well-known local sites.

Katja Leyendecker, chair newcycling.org, says “Taking account of the Local Plan, it is to our greatest surprise that the council wants to build a motor highway slicing through the neighbourhoods of Newcastle. We ask the Cabinet Member for Investment and Development Ged Bell and Chief Executive Pat Ritchie, what their basis of decision making is. What data did they use? What policy was invoked? Surely the Northern Access Corridor is a mistake, a hangover from an old practice of a distant past?

“The passages from the Local Plan are clear (see below). If we want to retain families in the city, we must provide family and children friendly streets and transport systems. If we want to improve public health and our competitiveness, building cycleways is the way to go to upgrade our transport system. If we want to take a slice of the new economies we need to attract young professionals and retain our students. The focus on quality of life and good urban environments with a wide choice of transport connectivities are key to doing so. Our old transport system is creaking – it’s not diverse. We need to build alternatives into our transport system to create high-quality urban living and provide incentives for people to come and stay.”

Sally Watson, newcycling Committee member for Community and Political Liaison, says: “To strengthen its position it is imperative that the council can demonstrate how its plans will achieve the goals outlined in the Local Plan. We are not convinced that it is possible to do this with current plans for the Northern Access Corridor. The lack of clarity in the process and the clear contravention of policies such as those to protect green space and increase sustainable transport only serve to increase conflict between the council and resident stakeholders, leaving officers exposed to unacceptable levels of criticism and abuse.”

Please scroll: Newcastle policies are listed BELOW the photo montages

Photos, courtesy of google maps

bluehouse-civiccentre

Civic Centre (Blue House overlayed to scale)

bluehouse-westgate

Westgate A1/A69 junction (Blue House overlayed to scale)

bluehouse-station

Newcastle Central Station (Blue House overlayed to scale)

bluehouse

Blue House plans overlayed to scale

bluehouse-stjames

St James’ Stadium (Blue House overlayed to scale)

Full Local Plan here

Transport policy section of Local Plan here

Policy text quoted from other sections than transport (headers are ours):

 

A basic vision

[The Local Plan] sets out the basis on which we can plan the development of a working city, with decent neighbourhoods for current and future generations [quote from Cllr Nick Forbes in foreword]. [p.9]

Business as usual not an option

This Plan is being written at a time of changing priorities. We can no longer rely on the exploitation of natural resources to meet our everyday needs or generate our wealth. There needs to be an integrated approach to planning for the future to provide a high quality of life at a lower environmental and ecological cost. The North East will need to address the effects of climate change. [p.33]

Public health eats the public purse

The health of people across Gateshead and Newcastle is improving, but is still much worse than the national average. It is also very polarised. (…) By focusing on the wider determinants of health, this Plan will play an important part in delivering opportunities to improve the health of our residents. [p.28]

Family exodus

We are losing families and employed people to other districts. [p.29]

Wake up to new economies

There is evidence to suggest relatively limited business formation and historically poor business survival across Gateshead and Newcastle. (…) [There are] 107,000 students [p.30]

A freedom for all in our city, not just car drivers

New parking provision will be located on the edge so that walking and cycling become a more attractive alternative to travel by car. Another key issue connected with this is the high volume of vehicle trips which pass through it, often unnecessarily. (…) [The Urban Core] could be further diversified by new development, especially for families. [p.31]

Solutions

Strategic Objective 8: Improve sustainable access to, within and around the Urban Core by promoting fast and direct public transport links to the heart of the Urban Core, increasing walking and cycling and minimising through traffic.

Policy CS13 Transport: The enhancement and delivery of an integrated transport network to support sustainable development and economic growth [pp.86]

CS13.3. Ensuring development (…) Provides for direct, safe, secure and continuous pedestrian and cycling links.

It is expected that there will be a considerable increase in cycling over the next few years and many routes will be in place. The Councils will improve conditions for cyclists through alterations to general traffic movement as outlined in Policy UC9. Vehicle speeds will be reduced and the volume of traffic minimised within the area bounded by the Urban Core Distributor Route. This will encourage cycling as there will be greater priority and a more attractive environment for cyclists. [p.138]

The Newcastle Cycling Strategy includes a Strategic Cycle Network. This includes Strategic Cycle Routes to connect the surrounding areas to the Urban Core. They will be direct links to the Urban Core providing greater cycling priority. [p.138]

New investment in Newcastle, particularly inside the UCDR to improve cycling conditions will be considered, including junction improvements and contraflow arrangements, allowing cyclists to use one-way streets in both directions. [p.138]

END