‘Discharge of condition 11 [Highway works] in connection with planning application 15/02170/CCD: Loosing Hill Bus Station, Hexham. 16/00071/DISCON’

Hexham Civic Society has lodged an objection to the proposed Discharge of Conditions application for highway works associated with the new bus station at Loosing Hill. Readers may recall the 10,000 name petition gathered by Local resident Dr Anne Pickering against the move to the new site, which was argued for as being necessary on grounds of public safety because of apparent manoeuvring issues on the present town centre site.

Hexham Civic Society were concerned at the relocation to a more distant site, and felt that the necessary pedestrian improvement measures that might make access to the more remote Loosing Hill site acceptable were not evident in the application. The highway works proposed in the approved application (15/02170/CCD) failed to cater for main pedestrian desire lines from the south of Priestpopple to the site.

A ‘Discharge of Conditions’ application is now being assessed by NCC and Hexham Civic Society has objected to the proposed highway works. We do not believe that pedestrians have been given the primacy that they should be given according to national highway guidance. Our objections is copied below. If you have a view on the proposed works please make them known to the Case Officer at NCC via the NCC website at: https://publicaccess.northumberland.gov.uk/online-applications/search.do?action=simple&searchType=Application quoting reference 16/00071/DISCON.

Our objection reads:

Hexham Civic Society object to the above application, 16/00071/DISCON for the following reasons:-

It does not comply with the national guidance for Local Authorities, Manual for Streets 2. This document stipulates a movement hierarchy in which primacy is given to pedestrian and cycle movement, with public transport second and lastly private vehicles. The proposed scheme fails to provide adequate means of pedestrian access to the bus station site in a direct and safe manner.

NCC Proposed Highways Layout

Whilst an analysis of the movement of buses, heavy goods vehicles and cars has been carried out, no analysis appears to have been carried out of the potential flow of pedestrians. We expect nothing less than easy and convenient pedestrian access to the bus station. This is a bus station in a market town which should give priority to pedestrians. It is clear that a substantial proportion of users of the facility will wish to travel from the western corner of Maiden’s Walk to the northern side of the A695 to the west of the bus egress point. No provision has been made for crossing at this point and the provision of “planting to deter pedestrians” clearly sets out to deter this main desire line. (more…)

Advertisements

The following is a press release from Northumberland County Council regarding drop in event 2pm-7pm 26th May at the Beaumont Hotel, Hexham, regarding proposed relocation of the existing bus station and the redevelopment of the present bus station site:

New bus station designs to be revealed
15 May 2015

Residents and local organisations in West Northumberland will have their first chance to see proposed designs for Hexham’s new bus station at an event in the town on Tuesday 26th May.

The drop-in event will be held in the Beaumont Hotel in Beaumont Street, Hexham and be open to the public from 2pm until 7pm.

+3 Architecture will present proposed designs for the new bus station, which is to be at Loosing Hill.  They will also wish to gain feedback from members of the public on ideas for a small park/landscaped area to the west of the new bus station.

The new bus station will feature modern facilities for bus users including an enclosed waiting area, toilets and refreshment facilities.  Residents and local groups have already provided some feedback on what they would like to see in the design, and further comments will be welcomed at the event on 26th.

Cllr Ian Swithenbank, policy board member responsible for streetcare and environment at Northumberland County Council said: “We are very pleased to be able to present proposed designs for the new bus station.

“The architects have given careful consideration to how the new building will fit with the context and character of Hexham, and taken inspiration for the design from features around the town.

“I urge people to come along and take a look, and provide any feedback that they would like us to take into account as we progress with this development.”

Dysart Developments Ltd will also be at the event to provide an update on their proposals for development of the existing bus station area on Priestpopple.

The proposed regeneration project will provide homes and jobs and regenerate a tired and run down part of the town centre.  It will also form an important link to the Marks and Spencer store and to town centre parking.

It is anticipated that a planning application for the new bus station will be submitted in the summer, and once this is approved the council hopes that construction will begin before the end of the year.

The new bus station is due to open by Summer  2016, after which the existing site is due to be redeveloped as part of the regeneration project.

Dysart Developments will be carrying out further pre-planning consultation on their proposals and also expect to submit a planning application during the summer months.

Follow this link to find out more about the bus station project:

http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=6270&article=3845

 

Newsletter Draft Spring 2015.qxdCivic Society Members should now be receiving their copies of the new Spring 2015 HCS Newsletter. With updates on the proposed ‘Great Council Buildings Sell-Off’; the scrapping of the West Area Planning Committee and the centralisation of planning decisions to Morpeth; Hexham Shopfronts; Planning and more.

 

The previous Autumn 2014 edition of the newsletter can now be downloaded free from here –  HCS Newsletter Autumn 2014.

Further to the saga of Hexham Bus Station and Northumberland County Council’s preferred option of relocation to Loosing Hill, a further opportunity to examine the Council’s proposal will take this week at the Queen’s Hall.

The exhibition at the Queen’s Hall on Beaumont Street will display information about the NCC study into the eight options that have apparently been investigated. It will be open from Monday 11 to Friday 15 August during normal opening times for the building, and council staff will be available to answer questions. The sites that have been considered at are Wentworth Car Park; Maiden’s Walk; Hexham Railway Station; Loosing Hill; on-street facilities on Priestpopple; the existing bus station site; the existing bus station site plus land to the south; and land at the south-west corner of Priestpopple and Corbridge Road.

The list of sites was put forward earlier this year by Hexham Town Council, and each was scored against 27 criteria under five themes of: accessibility; functionality; sustainability; safety and security; and cost. The study found that, of the eight site options considered; Loosing Hill, Wentworth Car Park, Maiden’s Walk and Hexham Railway Station could all accommodate the facilities associated with a modern bus station. The features considered essential are: enough space to accommodate five bus stands and accompanying running lanes and manoeuvring space; drop-off, layover and maintenance area; taxi rank, customer waiting area, customer toilets, staff facilities and cycle stands.

Cllr Ian Swithenbank, policy board member responsible for streetcare and environment at Northumberland County Council, said: “We are very keen to engage with and gain comments and feedback from as many people as possible on the options for the bus station. No decision will be made until early autumn, and only after further consultation has been completed.”

The exhibition will be in the foyer of the Queen’s Hall and can be viewed during normal opening times for the building.

This follows a previous drop-in session in the town, which was attended by over 400 people. At that event invitations were extended to representatives of local businesses and organisations, bus companies, local councillors and members of the public. Further information and a feedback form are available on the council’s website at http://www.northumberland.gov.uk/hexbus. A printed copy of the AECOM report is also available at the council’s customer information centre at Hadrian House on Market Street. The council will be analysing all feedback and consultation responses before making a decision in the autumn.
The exhibition will be available during normal opening times for the building, as follows: Mon 10am – 7.30pm; Tues 9am – 5pm; Weds 9am – 5pm; Thurs 10am – 5pm; Fri 9am – 7.30pm
Also this week opponents of the proposed move will rally at 11am on Wednesday 13th August at the bus station site. Dr Anne Pickering has presented her petition of over 4,000 names against the proposed move to NCC officers and will lead Wednesday’s rally.

Hexham Civic Society officially remains open-minded regarding the possible move to Loosing Hill – however, we feel that any commitment to the Loosing Hill site requires a cast-iron guarantee of a very high quality proposal for the vacated site. Unfortunately, as has been seen with recent approvals at the 7 storey retirement flats at the former Baths at Gilesgate, and at the Hexham Goods yard site, design quality may be a low priority for NCC and its preferred developers. We would welcome the views of HCS members on how we should position ourselves here.

On our website poll, 66% of respondents voted to keep the station at its present location, with the remainder favouring Loosing Hill.

Following the exhibition 11/07/14 by developers Dysart and Northumberland County Council for the proposed relocation of the present bus station to Loosing Hill, we attach two feedback forms for your information. Both can be downloaded from the links below and written on and posted or re-scanned as you wish. The Dysart form can be emailed to admin@nicholsonnairn.co.uk and the NCC form should be sent to ask@northumberland.gov.uk for the attention of the ‘Strategic Transport Team’. The NCC deadline for comment is believed to be Friday 25th July.

Hexham Civic Society is considering its formal response to the proposals and if you are an HCS member, please let us know your view.

Feedback Form NCC Bus Station Loosing Hill Proposal

Feedback Form Dysart Bus Station Site Proposal

Hexham Bus Station. Image Copyright A RoweHexham Bus Station Relocation – ‘Drop in Event’

We have been advised by Northumberland County Council that a drop-in event is to be held in Hexham at Prospect House on Friday 11 July. The NCC Press Release states:

“Residents, bus users and anyone who wants to find out more about proposals for the bus station is welcome to call in at the Council Chamber in Prospect House, Hexham at any time between 2pm and 7pm. Visitors to the event will be able to see the outcomes from a detailed appraisal of options for the future of the bus station undertaken by NCC. The eight options considered include retaining the bus station on its current site and each possible site was scored against 27 criteria under five themes of: accessibility; functionality; sustainability; safety and security; and cost. (more…)

Despite a commitment made to Hexham Town Council on Monday 3rd of February that the NCC Policy Board would commit to full public consultation on options for bus station provision in Hexham, NCC Councillors appear to have ruled out retention on the current site:

http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/north-east-news/northumberland-county-council-votes-hexham-6698390

Based on supposed ‘health and safety concerns’ dating from a 2006 report by Council Officers the present site is apparently unable to be retained. This is in direct opposition to the 2013 Hexham Bus Station petition in which 2,500 signatories asked for retention on the present site and in opposition to NCC portfolio holder Councillor Swithenbank’s promises to Hexham residents and Town Councillors made only last Monday.

Following the Policy board meeting on Tuesday 11th NCC released a statement saying: “We know that the provision of bus services is a very important issue for the residents of Hexham and surrounding areas.

“However the current bus station does not meet modern safety requirements, and we also have to consider the long-term viability and vitality of the town centre”.

Hexham residents, who were joined in their opposition to the scheme by MP Guy Opperman, might justifiably feel aggrieved that their stated preference for retention on the existing site has been wholly ignored. The concerns of Hexham Town Council, which had asked for a set of options, including retention of the existing site have clearly been swept aside in NCCs eagerness to dispose of the site to its preferred partner Dysart, who own the adjacent derelict properties.

We await with interest the proposed ‘consultation’ exercise, which apparently omits the one option consistently called for by Hexham residents.