Developer brings new threat of traffic lights

The threat of traffic lights has returned to Morpeth town centre.

Signals were removed from the Telford Bridge gateway to the town last autumn following 18 months of protests against them.

But now developer Linden Homes is planning to erect new lights at Dark Lane as part of its St George’s Hospital housing scheme.

In a newsletter sent to residents in the north of the town, the applicant acknowledges that a roundabout was requested during public consultation on the plans, but says a ‘signalised junction provides a robust and deliverable solution’.

It states that a Transport Assessment, submitted as part of its application, shows that a mini-roundabout would not be feasible as it would provide less capacity than the current junction, while a larger roundabout would require land to be used outside of the developer’s ownership and would not be deliverable.

However, Morpeth Town Council has recently approved an application to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to transfer land from Tommy’s Field Allotments to accommodate such a roundabout, with a bigger site for displaced plots earmarked next to East Riding residential home.

Town councillor Bob Robertson, who was one of the leaders of the Telford Bridge Lights Out campaign, said: “It is disappointing that the developers haven’t sensibly taken on board the recommendation of the county council for a roundabout, and the clear wishes of a large proportion of the community, who are very much against traffic lights for obvious reasons. If you put traffic lights there, the whole town snarls up.”

“If we wanted to prove how inappropriate traffic lights are, you could put temporary lights at the junction. If they were up for even ten days there would be uproar.

“We could have upwards of 150 to 200 houses up there and for the type of properties there would be a high proportion of two-car households. There is also traffic for the hospital and the health centre going through that junction so you can imagine the tailbacks.

“Even the pedestrian lights at Morrisons cause some level of congestion, and they cycle more quickly than a vehicle control system would.”

He added: “The threat of traffic lights has returned. We got them removed from one gateway to Morpeth, now they are being threatened at another.”

Traffic lights were installed at Telford Bridge to ease congestion from the new Morrison’s supermarket off Dark Lane.

However, there was massive public outcry over concerns that the junction was too tight, increased congestion, caused confusion, was dangerous and looked unsightly.

Following public meetings, a petition and protest march to County Hall, Northumberland County Council agreed to remove the lights.

It is understood the council will meet Linden Homes to discuss its plans in the coming weeks.