Through Alnwick’s pioneering development of a neighbourhood plan, residents have had their say on a number of key issues for the town.
In 2011, Alnwick and Denwick were chosen as front-runners to try out neighbourhood planning – a new power being introduced by the Government to give people a real voice in deciding how development will look in their area.
And as part of this, residents have been invited to respond to surveys as part of the consultation process – the latest of which saw more than 560 responses.
Among the most unanimous of replies to the questions in the survey was on public toilets; 93.3 per cent said that the plan should provide for improved and fully-accessible public toilet facilities.
Most of the respondents also agreed that the plan ‘should support stronger economic growth than we have seen in recent years, but at a sustainable level’.
More than half of those asked agreed, while another 35 per cent strongly agreed.
One of the major changes in Alnwick that is already in motion is the building of a new high school at a site at Greensfield alongside new sports facilities.
But while the Duchess’s Community High School is all set to move, residents are unsure that middle schools should move to the same site.
Asked whether the site should be considered for an ‘all-ages education village involving relocated middle schools’, only 46.6 per cent said yes against 35.8 per cent saying no. Nearly a fifth of respondents said they didn’t have an opinion.
But townspeople do feel that the school and sports site should be used for the benefit of the school and the community; 47.4 per cent agreed and 39.3 per cent strongly agreed.
There was a mix of feeling as to what the vacated school sites should be used for, with housing, sports and recreation facilities and green space all taking 25 to 30 per cent of the vote. Nearly half thought it should be a mixture of these.
Moving into the town centre, almost half of those asked thought that the new parking regime for the Market Place, involving 11 short-stay bays and loading zones for businesses, ‘seems sensible and time should be given to see how it works’. However, 33 per cent would have preferred to see no parking, and only loading and unloading for businesses.
In terms of other town-centre improvements, a small majority (52 per cent) would like to see greater pedestrian priority in Narrowgate, although this drops to 38.3 per cent for Bondgate Within.
Just under 70 per cent would like to see the Cobbles retained but improved, while 20 per cent would like them replaced with an alternative material.
More than half (56.8 per cent) would like lanes and alleyways connected to the town centre to be repaved ‘in materials in keeping with the historic character of the town centre’.