The proposal for a streetscape scheme in an area of Morpeth is to undergo further consultation before any work starts, Northumberland County Council has confirmed.
As part of the authority’s 2014-15 Local Transport Plan Programme, nationally recognised shared space experts Hamilton-Baillie Associates were commissioned to make recommendations about the potential for such an approach – using elements of the concept – to be applied in the county.
As a result of this report it was considered that a scheme could be applied to the Shields Road/First Avenue/Jobling Crescent area of Stobhill. However, safety concerns have been raised by residents in recent weeks.
They expressed fears as shared space involves removing some pavements and road markings to create an open space for both vehicles and pedestrians.
Supporters of the concept say it improves safety, reduces the dominance of cars over pedestrians and cyclists and betters the streetscape.
The scheme has been consulted upon through various means, including a public drop-in, although some residents told the Herald that this session was poorly advertised in their opinion.
Work on the scheme was due to start this week. However, after receiving a number of messages of concern, the council has agreed to carry out further consultation.
Local county councillor Ian Lindley, who championed the project, said: “We’ve gone through a lengthy process to engage with the local community.
“However, as we near the point where work was due to start, it is clear there are still those who have concerns about the scheme.
“In light of these concerns, we have agreed to postpone the start of the work so we can have further dialogue with key stakeholders, including the Northumberland Low Vision Action Group, to allay their concerns.
“We will outline in detail the various features of the scheme, in particular those developed to assist people with low vision, and how the overall design works to reduce traffic speeds and improve public safety, whilst also creating a more coherent and visually appealing public space.”