Planners urge council to make re-opening Northumberland Line a top priority

Re-opening the Newcastle to Ashington rail line should be the North East's key infrastructure objective in 2022, a planning expert has said.

By David Sedgwick
Tuesday, 28th December 2021, 8:00 am
Reopening the Newcastle to Ashington rail line should be the North East’s key infrastructure objective in 2022, say planning experts.
Reopening the Newcastle to Ashington rail line should be the North East’s key infrastructure objective in 2022, say planning experts.

Planning experts at Barton Willmore say key employment sites in Northumberland such as Lynefield Park, Energy Central and Cowpen Lane Industrial Estate would benefit from enhanced connectivity.

James Hall, partner at Barton Willmore’s Newcastle office, called on central and local government to urgently prioritise the reopening – citing it as potentially the single most effective infrastructure investment that could be made in the next decade.

He said: “There’s significant job-creation potential in Northumberland.

James Hall, partner at Barton Willmore.

"We need to ensure the success of those developments we already have, and facilitate others, by putting connectivity first.

“This rail link would put thousands of workers within commutable distance of key employment sites and open up this portion of South East Northumberland to even more inward investment.

“The economic success of Newcastle and Tyneside more broadly need not be at the expense of other places such as Seghill, Blyth and Ashington.

"Instead, by connecting them we create a stronger cluster of businesses.”

A spokesperson for Port of Blyth said: “We’ve already seen substantial inward investment into the area from companies looking to capitalise on the area’s expertise and facilities, particularly in sectors such as renewable energy, so improved transport links will help to make this part of Northumberland even more attractive to businesses and the people who work in them.”

A report published by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership earlier this month supports reopening the rail line as part of a wider set of recommendations across the UK to link nearby cities with towns to give residents better access to skills training and good quality jobs.

Barton Willmore have also highlighted the positive impact on housing that the Northumberland Line would create.

The firm’s own research found several large scale sites at Seghill, Seaton Delaval, West Blyth and Bedlington could provide up to 4,000 new homes that would create an estimated 340 jobs per month during the construction phase.

A further 750 operational jobs and 505 in the local supply chain could be created if new business parks are also developed.

It is hoped that the line will be able to welcome back passengers by 2024.