Tesco access scheme sparks accident fears

Artists impressions of plans by Northumberland Estates for a Tesco on The Braid, Amble..

Artists impressions of plans by Northumberland Estates for a Tesco on The Braid, Amble..

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FEARS have been raised over the proposed access plans for a supermarket development, with one critic claiming it will result in ‘fatalities’.

The concerns revolve around the stalled Tesco store in Amble, which has had its start date pushed back to spring next year.

As part of the development, a junction at the main access to the site with a filter lane for traffic turning right off Rotary Way – the road which runs between the town and Warkworth – is planned.

But at a meeting of Amble Business Club last week – which featured a talk from Tesco’s corporate affairs manager Doug Wilson – members spoke of their concerns about this, and called for a roundabout to be installed instead.

Mr Wilson also revealed that:

l The chances of work starting next spring on the Amble store, to be located north of Queen Street and adjacent to The Braid, are high.

l Once work starts, Tesco will see the development through to completion.

l Tesco is looking at demolishing abandoned buildings on the site and making the land safe.

But the most contentious issue at last week’s meeting was the method of access from Rotary Way.

One member said: “I think we should have a roundabout. It is a dangerous road. I think we will end up with fatalities with a filter lane.”

It was said that some people race along Rotary Way – a road which has already claimed a number of lives – at speeds of up to 100mph, and there was a feeling that the road was not wide enough to incorporate a filter lane.

There were fears that accidents could be caused, as drivers turning right from the exit junction could have their view of vehicles travelling towards Warkworth blocked by cars waiting in the filter lane to access the store.

It was claimed a roundabout would also provide a sensible traffic calming measure and one member said it was a ‘once-in-a-generation chance of saving people’s lives’.

Mr Wilson said he would take the concerns back to Tesco and that the delay in the start date of the store would allow for dialogue, but added that the highways plans had been done by professionals.

He said: “The scheme we have at the moment doesn’t have a roundabout in it.

“If we were to look at amending that it would mean having another planning application – there would be a cost and a time implication – but if there is a very strong feeling I am happy to take back the feedback.”

Last week, the Gazette reported that there was a feeling of disappointment in the town that work on the store, which will create 150 jobs, had been postponed for another 12 months.

Mr Wilson told the business club that a combination of the company’s poor festive trading period and an intention by Tesco to ‘refresh’ existing stores had led to the Amble scheme being delayed.

But he said that in the wider context, it wasn’t all bad news for Amble.

“There are some schemes that we have walked away from,” he said.

“Some have been pushed back to 2015. As far as Amble is concerned, a 12-month delay is not ideal and I know it is not the news you want to hear, but in the wider context it is still relatively good news.

“We have bought the site from The Northumberland Estates and we own the land so that pushes the scheme fairly far up the table. It is in the three or four per cent of schemes that we are looking to push ahead.”

He said he was 97 to 98 per cent sure that the scheme would go ahead next spring and added: “Once we have started and committed to the development, we will see the project through to completion.”

He told members that there would be a ‘seamless transition’ between the opening of the new store and the closure of the existing Tesco outlet, on Queen Street, which still had a ‘considerable amount of time’ to run on its lease.

Existing staff will be transferred to the new store.

There have been long-standing concerns about land adjacent to North View at The Braid, which has been a haunt for anti-social problems, including fly-tipping, litter and derelict buildings.

But Mr Wilson said that Tesco was now looking to take action.

“We are aware that there is an issue and we are looking at how we can tidy up the site and make sure it is clear and safe,” Mr Wilson said.

“We would look to demolish the properties there early to make sure there is no security issue and take away the negative visual aspect as well,” he added.

The development – an eco-store – includes car parking and Mr Wilson told members that it would offer a mixture of food and non-food goods and that the company always look to provide free parking where possible.

He added that once work started, a recruitment process would begin in due course.

After the meeting, chairman of the business club, Colin Harris, said that the discussions had been positive but admitted the club would pursue the access issue.