Hexham Civic Society is pleased to promote the numerous Tyndale buildings (and beyond) which are open over the next few days as part of the Heritage Open Days long-weekend 7th-10th September. They include the Allen Smelting Mill Tour – https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/allen-smelting-mill-tour

Old Allendale Railway Station – https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/allen-valleys-old-allendale-railway-station

Forum Cinema Projecting Room Tours – https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/forum-cinema-hexham-projection-room-tours2

The Black Barn, Burncliffe – https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/the-black-barn

Hexham Old Gaol – https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/what-lurks-within

Hexham Abbey – https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/hexham-abbey1

and Hexham House of Correction – https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/hexham-house-of-correction-walk.

All entries can be viewed here: https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/printable-area-lists/town/Hexham

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Hexham Civic Society’s Summer 2017 Newsletter will be dropping through the doors of members in the next week or so. News on the Workhouse complex, Gilesgate baths site, AGM reports and more. Please join us and help make Hexham a better place for residents, visitors and workers.

Our Autumn/Winter 2016 newsletter can now be downloaded for free here: Hexham Civic Society Newsletter Autumn Winter 2016 email version.

Hexham Market Place regeneration. Design idea one from Sustrans.

Hexham Market Place designs drawn up by Sustrans under an initiative supported by Hexham Town Council and Northumberland County Council will be displayed in Hexham this Saturday 24th and also on 1st July.

Hexham Civic Society has long campaigned for improvements to the Market Place although we recognise that finding a mutually agreeable solution is difficult, given the competing demands of parking, circulation, pedestrian use and

Hexham Market Place regeneration. Design idea two from Sustrans.

the role of the Market Place as a historic area in its own right and as the setting for our fabulous Hexham Abbey and other important listed  and historic buildings.

With twelve initial ideas now whittled down to 4, residents, workers and visitors can now have further say.

The proposals range from renovating the existing space to pedestrianising the whole area.

Design one is described as a renovation of

Hexham Market Place regeneration. Design idea three from Sustrans.

the Market Place and would involve the installation of ‘gateways’ that serve as entrances.

Moving the entrance to the Market Place car parking spaces to allow for improved access for visitors arriving from Hallgate via the Moot Hall, along with new crossing points, is also suggested.

The second design suggests rearranging the parking, reprioritising the junction and pedestrianising Hallstile Bank. Moving the car parking to the roadside is

Hexham Market Place regeneration. Design idea four from Sustrans.

also suggested to allow for a permanent market space and parking bays that would not need to be suspended on market days.

The third idea pedestrianises Hallstile Bank and Market Street but maintains Market Place parking.

And, finally, the fourth suggestion fully pedestrianises the Market Place and surrounding streets, leaving the town centre free for use during public events, but maintaining access and loading arrangements for homes and businesses.

Martin Podevyn, senior urban designer at Sustrans said: “We have listened to the residents and visitors of Hexham and captured as much information as we can on how people use the streets in and around the Market Place.

“We are thrilled at the amount of feedback that the website generated. There was some excellent dialogue and valuable information about the kinds of changes that people would like to see.”

The additional feedback gathered in the latest phase will be worked into the proposals over the coming months before a preferred design is drawn up and put to the public.

The plans can be viewed in detail on the project website at hexhammarketplace.stickyworld.com and designers will be attending market days in Hexham and hosting stalls on June 24 and July 1.

The Hexham Courant report on the scheme can be viewed here.

 

 

You are invited to our ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING on

Wednesday 17th May 2017 in Hexham Abbey Great Hall At 6.30pm

Followed shortly after by a talk given by
Jules Brown

of Historic England and NECT (North of England Civic Trust)

 “What a Character!”

Conservation Areas – What they are, what they do, and how they benefit Hexham

(Refreshments will be available!)

As many of you will have read in the press (Hexham Courant 20/01/17) supermarket chain Lidl is looking at sites in Hexham, including the historic workhouse site.  

Hexham Union Workhouse was erected in 1839 at Peth Head.  In 1883 it underwent extensive alterations and additions at a cost of £8000 and was then capable of accommodating 300 residents.  As part of the enlargement a Master’s House and a dining room were provided; the finely carved doorway of the house, bearing the date 1883 is still there.

The building was later occupied by Hexham General Hospital, until the new buildings were opened on the south side of Dene Park (A695) in 2004. The company Helen McArdle Care Ltd bought the site when the Hospital moved, and although parts were occupied until recently, the buildings have been largely unused and are falling into increasing decay. Half the site is a surface car park.

hexham-former-workhouse-se-elevationThe buildings are not listed but are within the Hexham Conservation Area. We believe that they form an important gateway to Hexham and that the buildings should be retained and brought back into use. We agree with the emerging Northumberland Core Strategy and the Hexham neighbourhood Plan, both of which designate the site for housing. Hexham Civic Society has actively promoted new uses on the site since 2012, and assisted Urban Design students at the University of Newcastle on three separate years to use the site as a ‘case study’, imagining how it could be brought creatively back into use.

Fortunately for the buildings, although unlisted, there is a very strong presumption in Planning Legislation against the loss of heritage assets within conservation areas.

On hearing that Lidl were interested in the workhouse site HCS made immediate contact and emphasised that while we supported regeneration of the site, and possibly a retail scheme on the surface car park, we were implacably opposed to any demolition of the workhouse buildings.  Lidl have advised us that “We are exploring a number of different sites in the Town and I wanted a general discussion with NCC, unfortunately we had to choose one site as the basis for the application meeting and it was this site.  The plans which we submitted to the Council did show the complete demolition of all existing buildings however as I have mentioned we are exploring a number of different opportunities which will hopefully avoid any works to the existing buildings on this site.”

We are also very interested in the murals within the dining hall of the site, attributed to E Swinburne and dated 1885, as reported in the Hexham Courant 27th January 2017.

As yet there is no planning application relating to the site and we are encouraged by Lidl’s statement as above. However, we will be keeping a very close eye on this site and welcome the views of our members on this. This is a brownfield site suitable for a number of uses, but given the character of the existing buildings, and the identified need for social and affordable housing in Hexham, a mixed residential development would be ideally suited to the site. Examples of the mix of housing that could be provided, include:-

  • affordable family homes
  • sheltered accommodation
  • private residential units for older people
  • self-build housing units
  • Co-Housing and Co-operative housing schemes
  • executive apartments

You can make your general views known to the Head of Planning Services at Northumberland County Council by emailing  geoff.paul@northumberland.gov.uk or to the prospective developers Lidl by emailing chris.blyth@lidl.co.uk

Coming soon – Autumn/Winter newsletter – will it beat the equinox?

Newsletter Draft Autumn 2016.qxdIncludes shop front and retail updates, bus station, Hexham train station works, sash window restoration and more. Full colour issue. Free to members and through doors very soon.

The Society is seeking to secure the long term future of two established footpaths in Hexham centre. Since this summer, these two paths have been obstructed in different ways. 

One of the footpaths runs through Bank Head where the historic “Old Grammar School” (founded under a 1599 charter of Elizabeth I) is sited. The eastern end of this footpath is now often obstructed by the padlocking of the long- standing  double gates which separate the east end of Bank Head from Hallgate. 

The other footpath runs through the car park area to the north of Prospect House. This provided pedestrian access to an elevated viewing point above Hallstile Bank on the north west edge of the car park. From this elevated position there are panoramic views over the Tyne Valley and beyond. It is this panoramic view, the “prospect”, after which the house is named. This path is now fully obstructed by high metal fencing placed along the southern edge of the car park since it became surplus to Northumberland County Council requirements and was apparently sold on. 

General location of the two historic footpath routes

General location of the two historic footpath routes

If these two footpaths are to be restored to their previous “always accessible” status, sufficient evidence from local people of their previous use of these paths is a fundamental requirement if they are to be legally established as a protected right of way. At this stage, we would wish you to contact the Society if you have used either or both of these footpaths together with a brief summary of your level of usage, notably, for how many years you have used one or both of them and how often per year you have used one or both . Once it is judged that there is a sufficient level of previous path usage to support a legal claim for these rights of way, we will be in touch with you again about the next and final step, the completion of what is known as  a “User Evidence Form”. At this stage the Society may well organize a meeting for those who have contacted us to circulate, explain and answer any questions on the User Evidence Forms and any other questions. 

Your contact on this issue is Richard Simons – Tel: 01434 606034