Planners give green light for new Bebside rail station

Planning chiefs have approved the latest stop on the planned Northumberland Line rail link between Ashington and Newcastle.

By James Harrison
Wednesday, 5th January 2022, 1:45 pm
The latest station for the Northumberland Line has been approved.
The latest station for the Northumberland Line has been approved.

Blyth Bebside has become the latest calling point to be approved by bosses at Northumberland County Council.

The decision means just one stop, Newsham, is still waiting for planning permission ahead of the planned 2024 opening of a scheme bosses have suggested could help create an “economic powerhouse” stretching from Edinburgh to Leeds.

“This is so much progress on the green agenda and the economic agenda that we cannot not support it,” Barry Flux, county councillor for Cramlington West, told the local authority’s Strategic Planning Committee.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions about the [station] platforms and how they might not be ‘world class’.

“But in Manchester a lot of the tram stops look like this and anywhere else with this type of excellent rapid transport systems there are a lot of stations which look like this and I think we need to be realistic on that.”

While the overall Northumberland Line project, which will get passengers from Ashington to Newcastle in 36 minutes once it opens, has been largely supported, key elements have faced criticism.

Labour county councillor Caroline Ball has accused proposed station designs of lacking “wow factor”, while plans for an underpass in Ashington prompted concerns from Northumbria Police.

The Blyth Bebside plans have raised questions about the impact on traffic, particularly for vehicles accessing Cowpen Road causing backlogs on the A189 and A193, with further fears over how this could be affected by increased closures at the nearby level crossing.

Liberal Democrat councillor and a former leader of the county council, Jeff Reid, questioned whether the project was a good use of public money, as well as whether it would succeed in encouraging commuters to ditch their cars.

Rob Murfin, the local authority’s director of planning, insisted however that the planning permission had been structured to allow revisions to the plans “should issues be identified in the future”.

Last year, backers of the rail project hit back at suggestions the stop could be axed from the final plans.

Prior to the latest decision, stations had already been approved on the route at Ashington, Bedlington and Seaton Delaval.

Plans for the Newsham station are expected to be considered later this year.