Radical proposals to overhaul Alnwick town centre to try to redress the balance between vehicles and pedestrians have been drawn up.
At last Thursday’s meeting of Alnwick Town Council, members received a presentation from Northumberland County Council’s Margaret Robinson and Martin Podevyn, of Sustrans, about proposals for Alnwick drawn up as part of a major project to make seven town centres in the county ‘more sustainable’.
A team at the county council is looking at seven town centres, including Alnwick, as part of a long-term scheme to improve those areas for residents and visitors.
Mr Podevyn has carried out an extensive audit of the centre of Alnwick, describing it currently as a ‘hostile environment’ for a pedestrian.
He has drawn up proposals for ways in which various key areas, including Bondgate Within, Narrowgate, Fenkle Street, Clayport and Market Street, Dispensary and Lagny Street, and Pottergate, could be improved.
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.
Mr Podevyn added: “It’s not about closing roads or pedestrianisation, it’s about making them more atrractive.”
Mrs Robinson admitted that the proposals were concepts at this stage and details would be worked out by the engineers as the schemes progressed.
These concepts are about ‘trying to redress the balance between vehicles and pedestrians’.
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, but the idea is to have a project pipeline so that proposals can go ahead when funding becomes available.
In terms of ‘starter’ projects for this year, the idea is to look at improving the link between Alnwick Castle and Garden and the town centre through the likes of improved signage on Denwick Lane and Greenwell Road.
Another scheme that could progress sooner rather than later is improving the cycle links between Alnwick and Alnmouth Station, which could tie in with the Aln Valley Railway project going forward.