Warm welcome, but some aspects missing

Concept design for transforming a cramped through road to a more user-friendly shopping street on Bondgate Within, highlighting the entrance to Paikes Street.
Concept design for transforming a cramped through road to a more user-friendly shopping street on Bondgate Within, highlighting the entrance to Paikes Street.

A group which aims to protect and enhance the heritage of Alnwick has welcomed recent proposals to overhaul how people travel around town.

In June, the Gazette revealed that an audit had been carried out by the county council with the aim of drawing up plans to redress the balance between vehicles and pedestrians and make the town centre ‘more sustainable’.

The proposals range from the relatively simple, such as installing pedestrian crossings on Dispensary Street and Lagny Street, to much more ambitious plans, which would involve rearranging the street layout to take space from the road in order to create wider pedestrian areas while still providing parking.

In the most recent newsletter from Alnwick Civic Society, it says that ‘we warmly welcome this report. It correctly identifies the issues, proposes viable solutions and provides a good framework for discussion of the options’.

However, it also says: ‘We found some aspects of this report disappointing. Insufficient attention was paid to the pivotal role of the Market Place and the report would have benefitted from more local input.

‘The authors emphasise the centre and the needs of visitors – with less attention to changing traffic patterns within the town itself, such as the impact of the new high school’.

Separately though, there is work ongoing to look at pedestrian and cycle routes to the new high school at Greensfield and how they can be improved and made more safe. The Society says that, taken together, the two initiatives are comprehensive and compatible.

‘There are elements missing,’ the newsletter continues. ‘The principal areas that need further consideration are the South Road approach, cycle/pedestrian routes to the new high school, integration of the Market Place and street-lighting revisions.

‘But the central concepts are right; that changing priorities for pedestrians should be clearly signalled at the town-centre gateways, that this has to be done consistently and that it will be best achieved through design and distinctive features, rather than enforcement’.

There is £1million allocated for sustainable town centres in this year’s Local Transport Plan, with more funding expected over coming years.

However, that money is to be split between seven towns across Northumberland and some of the projects for Alnwick would be expensive.

The Civic Society concludes: ‘We have to accept it is unlikely that all desirable elements will be delivered together. Progress may be more gradual than we like.

‘But for these schemes to work properly, it is essential to maintain consistency and without sifficent investment, no worthwhile improvement can be expected. So we hope members will voice their support’.