Alnwick bus station improvement plan discussed

Plans for long-awaited improvements at Alnwick bus station have been the subject of further discussion.

Monday, 14th October 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 14th October 2019, 7:00 am
Alnwick Bus Station

In March, Northumberland County Council announced support for 'the development of a feasibility study to establish how Alnwick bus station and the surrounding area can be improved as a key gateway into the town'.

The scope of the feasibility study was discussed at a recent Alnwick Forum meeting with the initial view being to seek improvements ‘which result in a warm, safe, enclosed environment with modern toilet facilities and bus and tourism information’.

Reporting on that meeting, Tim Kirton, Alnwick Town Council’s projects officer, said: “At the moment we have a very unpleasant wind tunnel which is not conducive to its use so we are looking at a sheltered and heated waiting room, public toilet facilities if possible and a new rest room for the drivers.

“The broader objective is to promote bus usage a lot more and to look at regenerative opportunities around the bus station.”

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Coun Gordon Castle also revealed the intention was for a ‘drive in, drive out’ arrangement so buses would no longer have to reverse.

“There appears to be the ability for buses to drive in one side and out the other,” he said.

Alnwick Town Council has committed £5,000 towards the costs of the feasibility study and clerk Peter Hately assured members that their input was still wanted.

“It’s not the final design,” he said. “There are some fundamentals that the county council have indicated they would want but also enough flexibility when looking at regenerative ideas.”

Town councillors called for a broad feasibility study looking at as many options as possible.

Coun Alan Waton said: “Clearly something needs to be done about the bus station. I would hope that the feasibility study has quite a large remit so we have a range of options, from doing something very simple such as making it more secure, warm and inviting than it is now to something which incorporates some kind of social activities, for example a cafe.

“We need to think very carefully about toilet facilities. They bring with them all kind of responsibilities and costs. As a town council, we can’t go into this without being aware that we will not just have capital costs, there will be recurring costs.”

Coun Sue Patience responded: “The conversation at the Forum encompassed much of what you were saying, that we should look at several options. They might not all happen at once. Those are the basics of it but there is scope to do a lot more but we need to define what that is and what is feasible.”

Deputy mayor Geoff Watson suggested the Forum should study the 2008 townscape report.

“That included the bus station and made some very good suggestions,” he said. “They were talking about raising the streetscape to match the buildings next door and put some affordable housing on the top. That might be a good starting point.”

Coun Sue Allcroft said: “We need to get more buses on the routes. It will be a bit chicken and egg at first but people will use them if they were every 20 minutes or half hour.”

Coun Julia Lyford called for engagement with user groups.

The scheme would form part of the county council’s Town Investment Programme.