Over the past two years, I have been to many meetings with Highways England as dualling of the A1 route affects us. Final plans are soon to be lodged.
I have tried to point out the inadequacies of parts of the design for this road between Morpeth and Felton. No one seems to listen.
We all went to the public presentations, but nothing was changed. It makes me think the route was decided and these presentations were purely cosmetic.
I wrote to Northumberland County Council about my concerns. Coun Glen Sanderson wrote on November 18, 2017, to the effect that the county council is merely a consultee and has no powers to seek any change to Highways England’s plans.
But the new Northumberland Local Plan states: “The new Plan will ensure that all communities are supported by adequate services, facilities and infrastructure, including housing, education, transport, health, social care, sport and recreation.”
I also wrote to our local MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan in November 2017. I then saw Mrs Trevelyan and had quite a long talk, but since then, only silence.
The old A1 at the southern end is to be discontinued, meaning the loss of a direct bus route, including cutting off the new £500,000 bus stops at Tritlington School.
Tractors and local traffic will be pulling on and off the new high speed road for very short journeys between Fenrother and Highlaws; lots of junctions onto very minor roads, taking up lots of space on agricultural land and costing lots of money to construct.
Surely it would be better, as is planned at the northern end between Longhorsely and Felton, to construct a service road alongside the new road to continue the old route south and join the A697 at a newly constructed roundabout east of the A697 bridge over the A1. This bridge would then be used for two-way traffic, with a second roundabout to the west.
Oh dear, if this happened, the council would have to adopt and maintain this road.
The Hebron to Highlaws road could then be severed at the new A1, or a bridge may be built for local traffic.
Morpeth Northern Bypass was built to ease the traffic load in Morpeth and cut down traffic in Hebron. However, from the north it is quicker to get to Pegswood via Hebron. Much traffic from the A1 still uses this route.
If a new multi-level junction is constructed traffic will increase through Hebron. This would increase the traffic through High Highlaws Farm, especially by people from the north visiting the garden centre.
Many people are not happy about having a junction at the farm, next to the Foot and Mouth burial pit. It would be so close that any escaped animal would only be yards from a very fast road.
Instead, the Hebron road could meet a newly constructed extension of the old A1. The Fenrother/Tritlington junction could then be scrapped, leaving a bridge for local traffic. Many residents at Fenrother are not happy about this proposed junction as it will bring lots of unwanted traffic through country residential areas.
The Highways England team seems set on its proposals. They are not local people and may not know what the Morpeth Northern Bypass was set to achieve, but they have listened to the majority of people who put pen to paper before the public inquiry.
Most of them were people who travel the road regularly so what did they vote for? They voted for the green route, of course – less disruption during the build as it is offline for much of the route and further away from most existing properties.
The route has been chosen so let’s make a good job of it.
The Highways team seems to have no thought for impact on the general road network within and just beyond the area. Its remit was only for a new road, nothing else.