Science Central West Development – Consultation reply

Did you know that Science Central, one of the key flagship developments within Newcastle city centre is aiming to be an exemplary site for sustainable urban development? In our reply to their Development Framework consultation, we remind the Council of their sustainable transport policies and recommend that they revisit their proposal for another car park and create cycling infrastructure linking up with the strategic cycle network.

 

“Dear Planning Policy team,

The document states that a primary objective of the development is to “Establish Science Central as a site-wide test bed for exemplary sustainable urban development”, yet the document proposes the inclusion of nearly 1,000 parking spaces, including a multi-storey car park. This level of increase in motor traffic will add to the congestion issues that already affect the city centre and will do little to encourage more people to travel by sustainable forms of transport.

Local Plan policy states “Traffic that passes through the Urban Core contributes significantly to congestion but little to its vitality” and especially in the Urban Core, the Local Plan wants to reduce motor traffic. The Local Plan also mandates to move car parking OUT OF the Urban Core towards the edge. Even putting policy to one side, it is certainly not an exemplary sustainable urban development in any case. Further to this in order to meet the policies set out in the Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan (for example CS13-3-ii: “Minimises car trips, promotes and enhances public transport and for major development provides sustainable travel plans” the council in accordance with its own policies should be planning for a much reduced number of motor vehicle parking spaces, and should seriously consider designating the site a car free development, with no car parking beyond that needed to meet the needs of disabled users. And from the policy UC10: – “The location and supply of safe, secure car parking will be managed by: Minimising car parking for development reflecting the highly accessible nature of the location” indicates that any new development in the Urban Core should have minimal car parking.

The Local Plan further mandates the planning and building of a cycle network, starting with Strategic Cycle Routes into the city centre, confer Local Plan 14.57. The document shows that Strategic Cycle Route 1 lead right up to the site from Elswick Road, but at the point where it meets the site, the route is shown to end, rather than passing through the site to join up with the Strategic Cycle Network, in addition to this there is no indication of where Strategic Cycle Route 2 is intended to pass the site or how the site connects to the city centre network of cycle routes. The council must ensure that the routes correctly and clearly shown on the development plans to ensure that developers provide for them. For cycling routes, this would also require the council to ensure that cyclists and pedestrians are given separated provision along the route. Another consideration for the cycle routes, should be whether they become adopted highway, if the council fail to adopt the highway, it will be difficult for the council to ensure the cycle routes remain open and usable. The Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan has numerous policies that state the need for high quality cycle provision here, including UC6 (our emphasis): –

Sustainable modes of travel will be promoted giving priority where appropriate to cycling. Cycle infrastructure will be developed by promoting cycle improvements and links to the surrounding area. This will be achieved by:

  1. Completion of the Great North Cycleway,
  2. Improving links to the Newcastle Strategic Network,
  3. The improvement of cycle routes and cycling priority inside the Urban Core Distributor Route (UCDR), and Development at Science Central, East Pilgrim Street, Forth Yards and The Quays connecting to the surrounding cycle network.

The council need to ensure that these plans are revisited and amended to ensure they follow with policies set out in the Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan and to ensure that the development meets its own aims of becoming an exemplary sustainable urban development.

We would be grateful if you could acknowledge receipt of our reply.

Many thanks

Newcycling Committee