MORPETH’S high street could be pedestrianised under suggestions for the Neighbourhood Plan.
The proposal for full or partial pedestrianisation of Bridge Street is one of the ideas considered by the Plan’s transport group to enhance the quality of the town centre and attract more visitors.
The group has also re-ignited the idea of a one-way system for Bridge Street, Newgate Street, Manchester Street and Dacre Street to improve traffic flow at junctions and potentially reduce congestion at Telford Bridge.
Other ideas include the building of new roads, such as a link between Stobhill and County Hall to ease congestion at Mafeking Park, north facing access onto the A1 from Whalton Road to increase the value of the suggested Stobhill road, and a new north-south link road from Mafeking Park by Allery Banks to cross the Wansbeck near East Mill, providing a second river crossing.
A weight restriction could be placed on Telford Bridge to discourage heavy goods vehicles.
The group says that additional Morpeth car parking sites will need to be identified, or multi-storey provision made, and it has been suggested that free on-street parking could be provided for 20 or 30 minutes.
Another suggestion is for Morpeth to become an Active Travel Town, where a concerted and co-ordinated effort is made to enhance and promote walking, cycling and public transport use.
A network of traffic-free pedestrian routes could be developed, particularly to the town centre, schools and outlying villages, and a cycle network could also be needed, with appropriate separation between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles built in.
Improvements for bus services include additional journeys between Morpeth and Newcastle, better evening services and links from the wider rural catchment area, improved provision for school pupils, including a route to King Edward VI School from the new bypass with a bus parking facility, a service between the town centre and railway station, a direct bus to Wansbeck General Hospital, a link to Hexham and a park and ride service from the edge of town or Pegswood.
It is considered that better rail services could attract more tourists to the area and there are suggestions for more long-distance services to call at Morpeth, an increase in local services from the rural area, a more frequent service between Morpeth, Cramlington and Newcastle, and the re-opening of the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne line.
There could be a single ticketing scheme covering buses and trains and linking in to Tyne and Wear services.
The proposed principles of transport policies are as follows:
l Ensure the needs of all users are addressed.
l The transport system must be safe for all. Anyone over the age of 12 should be able to walk or cycle unaccompanied in safety, and traffic speed, volume and access by heavy vehicles should be managed.
l Sustainable travel modes should be maximised, with active travel encouraged.
l Seamless, integrated long and local distance journeys should be possible without the car.
l The transport system should contribute to the economic vitality of Morpeth, with good connections to the rest of locality, the county, region and country.
l The environment should be enhanced by preserving the historic fabric of the town, minimising visual intrusion, noise, vibration and air pollution of traffic, and ensuring that transport infrastructure is of a high design quality.
The transport group adds that housing development south of Morpeth should be resisted as it would add to congestion at pinch points.
l Consider new roads between County Hall and Stobhill, and from Whalton Road to the A1.
l Remove Telford Bridge traffic lights and reinstate a mini-roundabout.
l Consider a one-way system in Morpeth town centre.
l Pedestrianise Bridge Street.
l Consider car parking provision, such as a multi-storey facility.
l Adopt a co-ordinated approach to enhance walking, cycling and public transport use.
l Develop a network of traffic-free pedestrian and cycle routes, including safe links to schools.
l Improve bus and rial services to provide better options.
l Resist residential development south of Morpeth.