Alnwick traders hope pedestrianisation plan will help create European cafe vibe

Alnwick traders hope the full potential of Narrowgate can be explored after its permanent pedestrianisation moved a key step closer.

Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 10:11 am
Updated Thursday, 20th January 2022, 10:27 am
Cafe culture.
Cafe culture.

The proposal was given the green light by Alnwick Town Council last Thursday and is expected to be rubber-stamped by Northumberland County Council in due course.

Lisa Aynsley, chairman of Alnwick Chamber of Trade, believes there is an opportunity to further develop the town’s burgeoning cafe culture.

"The businesses have a real opportunity to thrive there now,” she said. “They could look at other models like Krakow and Berlin, or London and Edinburgh.

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Narrowgate in Alnwick.

"They have similar climates but have still managed to make their outdoor evening economy work seven days a week.

"In the summer, when it’s been busy, it looks rather attractive but it’s disheartening sometimes when you see that space standing empty with the cafes shut.”

If approved, further consultation would be carried out on the design and appearance of the ‘streetscape’ of the pedestrianised area.

There would also be an improvement scheme for the turning area in Bondgate Within and at the Fenkle Street/Market Street junction.

Narrowgate trader Fiona Nelson van-Loon, who runs Ruby Tuesday, said: “It’s a perfect opportunity to be visionary and creative in the design of a traffic free, attractive space for all to enjoy.

"It will be critical to have level paving but also to put clear rules in place for all businesses on that stretch so that yes, the most can be made of the area but that each business has clarity on the space they can use whilst leaving sufficient space for pedestrians and any associated mobility aids/prams.

"Not everyone will be sitting having a coffee so it does need to work for all. I will be interested to see the planning thoughts and ideas on the next phase for Narrowgate.”

The traffic-free trial of Narrowgate has split opinion since it was introduced in July 2019.

A report by council officers acknowledged the detrimental impact pedestrianisation has had on Bondgate Within.

Lisa said: “I would encourage the county council to work with those businesses individually to support them.

“I wouldn’t want to see any further pedestrianisation. I don’t think Alnwick has the transport network infrastructure to make it work.”

The most recent public consultation found 62% were in favour of pedestrianisation with 38% against.

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