Concerns over impact of traffic diversion in Morpeth

Fears have been raised that a road diversion in Morpeth due to start on Monday will cause significant disruption for a group of residents.

By Andrew Coulson
Thursday, 21st July 2022, 10:54 am

It has been revealed that works will be carried out on the road off the A197, which runs to newly-built homes on the Saint George estate and the St George's Park mental health hospital, by Linden Homes – the home sales division of Vistry Partnerships North East.

Although people will be able to access the Morpeth NHS Centre car park, a section of the road beyond that will be closed 24-hours a day for a minimum of 14 weeks.

Traffic will be diverted via Cottingwood Lane as a private road that follows from the top of the lane to the hospital site will be opened up.

A section of Cottingwood Lane in Morpeth. Picture from Google.

This means that people living in the Saint George homes and working at or visiting the hospital will be using the narrow road along the lane when residents in the Cottingwood Lane area would normally have had a respite from the traffic going to and from King Edward VI School at the top end of the lane.

And with the diversion set to be in place until well into October, they are predicting severe disruption when the new term starts in September.

Keith Harrison, who lives in Cottingvale just off Cottingwood Lane, said: “The residents of Cottingwood Lane and its adjoining roads were not informed of this traffic diversion. We found out from information sent to pupils and parents of the high school by Vistry Partnerships North East.

“Cottingwood Lane is for significant distances a single track road with several ‘blind spots’, where vehicles are unable to pass or to see oncoming traffic. Residents are aware of this and generally avoid the busy times of 7.30am to 9am and 3.30pm to 4.30pm.

“In each time period the traffic is predominantly in one direction, so the road users are able to allow passage to the few vehicles travelling in the opposite direction.

“However, we will now have in the morning period a significant increase in traffic in both directions comprised of St George’s housing development residents going to work, the development’s construction workers going to site and the St George’s Park staff changeover at 8am.

“This, of course, will increase with the school traffic from September and from this point, the disruption will be severe.

“There is no plan for any traffic management. The strategy is to let the road users fight it out and find a way for themselves.”

Graham Railton, associate technical director with Vistry Partnerships North East, said: “The works will include implementing traffic management such as signage and lining and widening of the Homes England estate road connecting Cottingwood Lane.

“This will result in the closure of the private estate access road from the A197 junction to Palmerstone Avenue, with traffic diverted through Cottingwood Lane.

“It is anticipated that the closure of the private estate road, and subsequent diversion through Cottingwood Lane, will be for a minimum of 14 weeks – subject to any unforeseen circumstances that may extend its duration.

“The private estate road will likely remain (in part) under traffic management after the works that require a full road closure are complete.

“In partnership with Northumberland County Council, we have communicated with those most likely to be affected by the temporary road closure and diversion, including King Edward VI School and its representatives.

“A number of alternative traffic management systems were explored to see whether a temporary closure of the private estate road connecting the A197 to Palmerstone Avenue could be avoided. However, none were viable because reduced safety zones and passing widths would contravene road safety regulations and could potentially increase the risk of traffic accidents.

“We will continue to communicate and update all those affected by this temporary road closure and will seek to minimise disruption wherever possible.”