New call for no traffic lights at key junction

Traffic queues when the temporary traffic lights were in place on Dark Lane earlier this month.
Traffic queues when the temporary traffic lights were in place on Dark Lane earlier this month.

A fresh approach will be made by town councillors to prevent traffic lights from being installed on a busy Morpeth road following major disruption earlier this month.

Temporary lights were in place on Dark Lane for just over a week so that engineering works by Future Utility Solutions could be carried out in relation to a Linden Homes development for up to 375 properties at the former St George’s Hospital site.

As a result, there were long tailbacks in this area and dozens of residents got in touch with members of Morpeth Town Council.

The matter was discussed at a meeting of its planning and transport committee.

The developer included a traffic lights system in its plans. If this remains the case, the equipment will need to be installed when the 110th home is occupied or the 160th if the bypass is open by that time.

Coun Bob Robertson said: “If you install traffic lights in that location, they will bung up the town.

“What happened when the temporary lights were in place has shown why we made representations against having them on Dark Lane on a permanent basis.

“I hope Linden Homes was aware of the disruption as it would surely put people off buying a home in the development.”

Committee chairman Joan Tebbutt said the timing of the temporary lights made things worse because roadworks were already happening in nearby Stanley Terrace.

Morpeth Mayor Alison Byard added: “We were getting strong concerns from residents, but we could only tell them that we were as surprised as them that these works were happening because we were not informed in advance.”

When the planning application for the scheme was considered, Linden Homes stated that it was willing to work with Northumberland County Council, Morpeth Town Council and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to install a roundabout junction.

However, this requires the acquisition and disposal of allotment land and an application to the Department for Communities and Local Government was unsuccessful.

Coun Nic Best said: “The department said that there is already a traffic management system proposed that was accepted by the county council.

“Therefore, we need to put pressure on the developer to apply to change the relevant condition in its approved planning application.”

The HCA is currently working on proposals for hundreds more new homes on its remaining St George’s land allocation.

As part of its consultation on this, it has held two events for members of the public at Morpeth Town Hall.