‘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…)

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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

Bensons coverWe are pleased to say that on Monday Hexham Town Council unanimously rejected the ‘preferred option’ of NCC to sell off the existing bus station site and pursue the ‘on street’ option with Benson’s Monument to host a new roundabout to facilitate turning buses. It requested that no deal was to be done before several options were brought forward by NCC for public consultation, and that no decision would be made without the support of a majority of Hexham residents.

We were very alarmed at the meeting to hear NCC Officers explain that pedestrian safety at this new and unwanted roundabout would be safeguarded by the provision of pedestrian guardrailing – exactly the car-centric, anti-pedestrian and aesthetically illiterate ‘solution’ which HCS fears this scheme will engender. We have discussed the numerous other failings of the ‘on street’ scheme in our Winter/Spring newsletter.

Despite Town Council stated opposition the sale of the site remains on the agenda of NCCs Policy Board meeting on the 11th.  We have written as below to Policy board members and would urge you, whether or not you support the sale, to express your view to them. We know for a fact that one of them has expressed the view that they should “sell now and talk later”. We do not believe that this reflects the democratic will of Hexham residents or of its Town and County Councillors, nor is it a sensible negotiating position.

Emails for board members are as follows: Grant.Davey@northumberland.gov.uk; David.Ledger@northumberland.gov.uk; Robert.Arckless99@northumberland.gov.uk; Susan.Dungworth@northumberland.gov.uk; Allan.Hepple@northumberland.gov.uk; Peter.Jackson@northumberland.gov.uk; Paul.Kelly@northumberland.gov.uk; ‘Jeff.Reid@northumberland.gov.uk’; Valerie.Tyler@northumberland.gov.uk; Ian.Swithenbank@northumberland.gov.uk

To each member of NCC’s Policy Board

“Dear Councillor,

Item 11 on the agenda of the next Policy Board meeting reads: “Hexham Bus Station To seek authority for the Council to enter into an agreement for the sale of the Council’s interest in Hexham Bus Station and to seek in principle approval for the relocation of the existing bus station facility.”

I request you not to give the authority sought and to defer any decision on this matter until there has been a full public consultation on the options for Hexham Bus Station and on any resulting changes to the arrangements for buses.

You will be aware that there is total opposition from Hexham’s electorate and from bus users to NCC’s current proposal. This opposition has been expressed in the media, in correspondence with councillors and officers, and at the meeting of Hexham Town Council on Monday 3 February. The plans presented by officers to that meeting were unacceptable both to the Town Council and to the large number of the public who were present.

Unfortunately none of Hexham’s County Councillors is on the Policy Board or any NCC committee that might have a voice in this matter. There is therefore no direct representation of the interests of Hexham and its electorate. The total rejection of the current proposals has, however, been made clear and it would be a denial of democratic process if the Board were to give the authority sought.

Councillor Swithenbank stated repeatedly at the Hexham Town Council meeting that there would be no sale of land until such time as there is a scheme which the majority of people support. This would be democracy at work and I ask again that you do not give the authority sought. It would be wrong for changes to be made to the status quo without the agreement of Hexham’s electorate and of users of its bus services.

Yours sincerely,

For and on behalf of Hexham Civic Society”