Index
CHAPTER 8 - ROADS AND TRANSPORTATION

PLANNING CONTEXT
8.2.1 Over the past twenty years traffic volumes have increased substantially throughout the country and this trend is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. National forecasts are for further increases in traffic between 1990 and 2001 of between 22% (low growth) and 57% (high growth). Recent major road improvements in the Borough have been the A1 Morpeth Bypass (1970), A69 Heddon Bypass (1973), A1 Felton/Thirston Bypass (1986), A1 Stannington Bypass (1987), A1068 Hadston Bypass (1987), A1068 Ellington Bypass (1989), and the B6545 Callerton Lane Link Road (1990). These schemes have significantly improved the flow of traffic and have enhanced the quality of life of the residents of the communities which have been bypassed. Nevertheless there are still several communities which will benefit from the provision of a bypass, particularly Belsay, Pegswood and Ponteland. More minor improvements can also have a beneficial effect on traffic flows and road safety.



TRUNK ROADS
8.3.1 The A1 to the south of Morpeth has been improved to dual carriageway standard with a recent bypass to Stannington village, however, some at-grade junctions continue to give concern (see Policy T1). The A69 Carlisle/ Newcastle road runs through the Borough for a short distance to the north of Heddon-on-the-Wall and has been improved to dual carriageway standard. The A696 Trunk Road provides an alternative cross border route to the A1 but traffic levels are much lower, however the County Council considers that there is a need to continue to improve this route to provide a good standard single carriageway together with the completion of bypasses to Ponteland (see Policy PT1) and Belsay (see Policy BET1).



FIG. 8.1 - ROAD NETWORK





A1 SAFELINK CAMPAIGN
8.4.1 The A1 Safelink Campaign was established in 1989 with the objective of obtaining the dualling of the A1 along its entire length between Newcastle and Edinburgh. To date the Campaign has brought together the Department for Transport and the Scottish Office to obtain a joint approach to the problem and is producing statistical evidence and an economic development assessment of the benefits which could accrue from the improvement of the A1 to dual carriageway standard. The matter is fully dealt with in Policy T1. and paragraph 8.15.1.



PRIMARY ROADS
8.5.1 Other important primary roads within the Borough are the A697 Morpeth - Longhorsley road, and the A1068 Ellington - Hadston road. The County Council has a long standing policy to seek to improve the A697 to good standards with a 7.3 metre wide carriageway - a bypass route to the east of Longhorsley village (Policy LHT1) is protected; no major improvements are currently envisaged for the A1068 within the Plan period which has been improved significantly during the past decade.



TRAFFIC GROWTH
8.6.1 In recent years traffic on trunk and other roads within the Plan area has grown at a rate similar to that experienced elsewhere in the Country. The rate of increase has been such that traffic flows on the Telford Bridge, Morpeth are now in excess of levels prior to the construction of the Morpeth Bypass in 1970. Similar rates of growth at Ponteland had until recently created high levels of traffic congestion on Ponteland Bridge, however, this has been eased significantly by the opening of the new Callerton Lane Link Road joining the A696 to the B6323.



CAR OWNERSHIP
8.7.1 Car ownership within the Plan area tends to be higher than in the surrounding areas of southeast Northumberland and Tyne and Wear with significantly more householders having access to a second car than in other areas. In 1991 75.3% of residents of Castle Morpeth had access to a car compared with 66.3% in the County as a whole. At that time 30.4% of people in the Borough had access to two or more cars compared with 20.1% in the County as a whole and 11.5% in Wansbeck. Table 8.1 indicates low car ownership levels in the eastern wards of the Borough, such as Chevington, Lynemouth and Pegswood, compared with the relatively more affluent wards of Ponteland, Hartburn, Hebron, Hepscott and Mitford.


TABLE 8.1 - CAR OWNERSHIP BY WARD




Source: 1991 Census.

Note : May not add to published totals due to barnardisation.




PUBLIC TRANSPORT
8.8.1 The overall pattern over recent years has been for passenger use to fall as car ownership has risen and road improvements have reduced journey times on many routes to Newcastle and Tyneside. However, many services, especially between main towns are operated commercially and often the more profitable peak hour and school journeys help maintain less busy off-peak journeys. However there is only limited competition between bus service operators. New demands for convenient transport and the relaxation of regulations under the Transport Act 1985 has led to minibus services being introduced to residential estates, particularly in Morpeth.





RAIL
8.9.1 The main east coast Edinburgh to London line passes through the Borough. Electrification of the line was recently completed providing improvements to Intercity service times. . Morpeth is the main station and there are local stations at Pegswood and Widdrington Station. The Council considers that Morpeth is of sufficient importance to justify some intercity service stops there and will continue to press for improvements to its services in this respect, though the intention to provide faster long-distance services may make this difficult to attain. The Council also considers it important to maintain and enhance the connector services to Pegswood and Widdrington Station.



DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT
8.10.1 The Department for Transport is the highways authority responsible for the Trunk Road network throughout England. Trunk roads are the backbone of Britain's road system. The Department for Transport has stated that:

"Trunk roads must play a full role in our integrated transport policy. They should not be planned in isolation. We will:
* bring transport and land use planning together at regional level;
* plan future improvements to trunk roads at regional level;
* focus on strategic road and rail transport corridors, ensuring that these are planned together in an integrated way;
* provide safer and more accessible interchanges between different forms of transport eg park and ride and freight transfer facilities; and
* consider trunk roads as a part of an overall transport network which includes local roads, railways, inland waterways, ports, airports and public transport interchanges.
They have set out new priorities for investment which aim to:
* "improve trunk road maintenance, making it our first priority;
* make better use of the roads we have through network control, traffic management measures and safety improvements; and
* tackle some of the most serious and pressing problems through a carefully targeted programme of improvements. " (A New Deal for Trunk Roads, 1998)



NORTHUMBERLAND STRUCTURE PLAN
8.11.1 The Structure Plan sets out the broad strategic framework within which the Council's Transport Policy and Programme (TPP) is set. Several of the highway schemes proposed in Structure Plan Alteration No. 1 have been implemented and other schemes will be reassessed and revised as part of the replacement Structure Plan. The main policy thrust is to provide road schemes which will facilitate the development of a highway network supporting and promoting economic growth in the County, while taking into consideration the environment and road safety. It is anticipated that this will remain the County's principal objective.



THE LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN
8.12.1 The Local Transport Plan is produced by the County Council in partnership with other organisations on a 5 year basis and sets out the strategic policy framework for transport and submitted along with a 5 year programme of works for consideration by the Secretary of State for Transport.



TRANSPORT OBJECTIVES
8.13.1 The Council endorses the objectives set out in the Local Transport Plan and sees these as an important part of setting an overall policy framework within which specific issues can be considered

The Local Transport Plan objectives are to

"Promote integrated transport systems and land use patterns that minimise dependence on the car;
Develop convenient, quality and affordable public transport services that meet the needs of all sections of the community, particularly to main employment centres and services;
Contribute to the creation of safe, convenient and attractive places for people to work and live by improving access for all by sustainable means and managing traffic to reduce its impact on the environment and the community;
Maintain, and where necessary improve transport links to assist economic and community regeneration;
Extend the highway network only where necessary to improve road safety, reduce unacceptable environmental impacts on communities or to enable new development."

These are adopted by the Local Plan

The following policies indicate how the above objectives are to be met.




ROADS AND TRANSPORTATION: THE POLICIES
POLICY T1
THE FOLLOWING NEW ROADS AND MAJOR ROAD IMPROVEMENTS WILL COMMENCE WITHIN THE PLAN PERIOD
i) THE PROVISION OF A GRADE SEPARATED JUNCTION ON THE A1 TO THE NORTH OF STANNINGTON VILLAGE
ii) THE A1/SOUTH EAST NORTHUMBERLAND LINK ROAD
THE FOLLOWING SCHEMES WILL NOT COMMENCE DURING THE PLAN PERIOD, BUT THE ALIGNMENT WILL BE SAFEGUARDED PENDING THE ANALYSIS OF THE RESULTS OF THE INQUIRY INTO THE FUTURE USE OF THE OTTERBURN TRAINING GROUNDS
iii) THE B6318-A69 LINK ROAD (IRON SIGN).
iv) THE A696 BELSAY BYPASS
v) THE A696 PONTELAND BYPASS
vi) THE EXTENSION OF THE CALLERTON LANE LINK ROAD TO JOIN THE PONTELAND BYPASS
DEVELOPMENT WILL NOT BE PERMITTED IF IT WOULD BE LIKELY TO PREJUDICE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ANY OF THESE SCHEMES



8.14.1 Scheme ii, iv, v and vi in the above Policy relate to individual settlements and are dealt with in the relevant settlement chapters.



MINOR ROAD IMPROVEMENTS
POLICY T2.
THE FOLLOWING SCHEMES FOR MINOR IMPROVEMENTS TO ROADS ARE PROPOSED:
i) A1068/B1337 JUNCTION.
ii) INCREASE THE HEIGHT OF THE AGRICULTURAL ACCOMMODATION OVERBRIDGE ON THE A1 BYPASS WEST OF MORPETH.
iii) A197/B6524 JUNCTION, MORPETH.
iv) CARLISLE LEA AND COOPIES LANE/A192 JUNCTIONS, MORPETH.
v) A197/B1337 JUNCTION, PEGSWOOD.
vi) ST. GEORGE'S ACCESS ROAD.
vii) B6343 MITFORD ROAD, DOGGER BANK.
DEVELOPMENT WILL NOT BE PERMITTED IF IT WOULD BE LIKELY TO PREJUDICE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ANY OF THESE SCHEMES.



8.15.1 Schemes iii - vii lie within settlement boundaries and are dealt with in the relevant chapters.

A1068/B1337 Junction



TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT
POLICY T3.
THE FOLLOWING SCHEMES FOR THE PROVISION OF TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT, TRAFFIC CALMING, ROAD SAFETY AND CAR AND LORRY PARKING ARE PROPOSED:
i) MARKET PLACE AND BRIDGE STREET, MORPETH
ii) CASTLE BANK TO SHIELDS ROAD ROUNDABOUT, MORPETH
iii) A696 WITHIN PONTELAND SETTLEMENT BOUNDARIES.



8.16.1 For Morpeth in particular, the problems associated with town centre traffic flows, ameliorated in 1970 by the opening of the bypass, have returned. Traffic flows on the Telford Bridge are now considerably in excess of levels experienced before 1970. Since then the benefits of removing non-essential traffic from town centres has been well established and in particular many attractive market towns throughout the country have benefited from the implementation of co-ordinated schemes of traffic management and environmental improvement.



HAULAGE ROUTES
POLICY T4.
THE COUNCIL SUPPORTS THE COUNTY COUNCIL IN THE IDENTIFICATION OF A HIGHWAY NETWORK APPROPRIATE FOR USE BY HEAVY GOODS VEHICLES AND WHERE APPROPRIATE WILL ENCOURAGE UPGRADING OF ROADS AND BYPASSES TO VILLAGES IN ASSOCIATION WITH DEVELOPMENT WHICH WILL GENERATE SUBSTANTIAL FLOWS OF HEAVY GOODS VEHICLES.




8.17.1 The Council is concerned that heavy goods traffic should be assigned to roads which are of adequate design and construction to accommodate them without detriment to highway safety and the amenity of communities. This is particularly the case where operations in remote rural areas, such as quarrying, forestry and the transport of grain, generate heavy lorry traffic. Routes from the Mootlaw Quarry, north of Matfen have been agreed in the past and highway improvements obtained as at Wallridge where the road has been moved away from close proximity to houses, to the benefit of local residents. The quarry company wish to extend their workings and should be required to construct a bypass to Matfen Village so as to remove heavy lorry traffic from the centre of that community. The Council will press for improvements to highways where similar situations arise.



PUBLIC TRANSPORT SERVICES
8.18.1 Under the 1985 Transport Act both Northumberland County Council and Castle Morpeth Borough Council have the legal right to put bus services out to tender, offering subsidy to provide improved services where they consider that needs are not being adequately met. To date only Northumberland County Council has used these powers.



PROVISION FOR CYCLISTS
POLICY T6
THE FOLLOWING CYCLE ROUTES, SHOWN ON THE PROPOSALS MAP, WILL BE ESTABLISHED AND SAFEGUARDED FROM DEVELOPMENT:-
i) NEWCASTLE TO MORPETH ROUTES;
ii) MORPETH/COQUETDALE LINK;
iii) WANSBECK VALLEY LINK;
iv) COAST & CASTLES ROUTE;
v) REIVERS CYCLE ROUTE;
vi) THE TYNESIDE ROUTE;
vii) URBAN ROUTES IN MORPETH.
DEVELOPMENT WILL NOT BE PERMITTED WHICH WOULD PREJUDICE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THESE ROUTES, OR THE CONTINUITY OF EXISTING CYCLE ROUTES. THE PROVISION OF SIGNPOSTING TO THE ROUTES BY THE COUNTY COUNCIL WILL BE ENCOURAGED.



8.19.1 Cycling is the most environmentally friendly form of transport and can contribute significantly to the health and wellbeing of the population. The increased use of cycles for journey to work and leisure trips would help to reduce the number of journeys made by motor vehicles and contribute positively to sustainable development.



PROVISION FOR CYCLISTS
POLICY T7
FOR ALL MAJOR NEW DEVELOPMENTS WHICH ARE LIKELY TO GENERATE SIGNIFICANT CYCLE USE, INCLUDING PUBLIC FACILITIES, SHOPPING CENTRES AND TRANSPORT INTERCHANGES, PROVISION SHOULD BE MADE FOR:
i) SAFE AND CONVENIENT CYCLE ACCESS;
ii) CYCLE PARKING FACILITIES WHICH ARE SECURE AND ACCESSIBLE;
iii) LINKS WITH EXISTING OR PROPOSED CYCLE ROUTES WHERE POSSIBLE.

IN NEW RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTS THE LAYOUT OF THE SITE SHOULD INCORPORATE THE REQUIREMENTS OF SAFE AND CONVENIENT CYCLING.



8.19.1 Cycling is the most environmentally friendly form of transport and can contribute significantly to the health and wellbeing of the population. The increased use of cycles for journey to work and leisure trips would help to reduce the number of journeys made by motor vehicles and contribute positively to sustainable development.



PROVISION FOR CYCLISTS
POLICY T8
ALL NEW HIGHWAY SCHEMES, INCLUDING ROAD IMPROVEMENTS AND TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT SCHEMES, SHOULD INCLUDE SPECIFIC PROVISION FOR THE SAFE AND CONVENIENT USE OF CYCLES.



8.19.1 Cycling is the most environmentally friendly form of transport and can contribute significantly to the health and wellbeing of the population. The increased use of cycles for journey to work and leisure trips would help to reduce the number of journeys made by motor vehicles and contribute positively to sustainable development.



ACCESS FOR THE DISABLED
POLICY T9
PROPOSALS FOR NEW BUILDINGS AND OTHER FACILITIES REQUIRING PUBLIC ACCESS, FOR ALTERATIONS TO EXISTING BUILDINGS AND FACILITIES USED BY THE PUBLIC, AND FOR CHANGES OF USE TO SUCH PURPOSES, WILL BE REQUIRED TO PROVIDE SUITABLE ACCESS ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE DISABLED, INCLUDING: :-
i) DEDICATED CAR PARKING FACILITIES;
ii) AN ACCESS ROUTE FROM THE STREET AND/OR CAR PARK TO THE MAIN ENTRANCE OF THE BUILDING; AND
iii) ACCESS INTO THE MAIN ENTRANCE OF THE BUILDING.

THESE REQUIREMENTS MAY BE RELAXED WHERE MODIFICATIONS TO LISTED BUILDINGS AND ANCIENT MONUMENTS MAY ADVERSELY AFFECT THEIR CHARACTER.



8.20.1 Access arrangements for people with disabilities are a material consideration in determining planning applications for developments which may be used or visited by the general public. The Council requires that all applications for planning permission associated with such developments should make adequate access provision for people with disabilities. The Council is investigating improvements to Morpeth Town Hall, to provide improved disabled access on a phased basis to the building and to its upper floors and to Council offices and other public buildings over which it has control.



CAR PARKING STANDARDS
POLICY T10
THE COUNCIL WILL REQUIRE CAR PARKING PROVISION FOR DEVELOPMENT WITHIN THE CENTRAL AREAS OF MORPETH AND PONTELAND AS DEFINED ON PROPOSAL MAP INSET NOS. 22 AND 27 AND WITHIN CONSERVATION AREAS, TO BE MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CAR PARKING STANDARDS FOR DEVELOPMENT AS SET OUT IN COLUMN B OF APPENDIX F. DEVELOPERS WILL BE EXPECTED TO PROVIDE THE MINIMUM FIGURE UNLESS THERE WOULD BE ADVERSE IMPLICATIONS FOR ROAD SAFETY OR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT, AND PROVIDED THERE IS GOOD ACCESS TO ESTABLISHED AND/OR PROPOSED PUBLIC TRANSPORT ROUTES.




8.21.1 The provision of adequate car parking in new development is essential. The County Council uses a series of standards (See Appendix F) to assess the likely requirements for any specific proposal and these are a clear guide to the level of parking provision needed. Car parking standards associated with residential development are referred to in Policy H15 within the Housing Chapter.



CAR PARKING STANDARDS
POLICY T11
THE COUNCIL WILL REQUIRE CAR PARKING PROVISION FOR DEVELOPMENT OUTSIDE THE CENTRAL AREAS OF MORPETH AND PONTELAND AND OUTSIDE CONSERVATION AREAS, TO BE MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CAR PARKING STANDARDS FOR DEVELOPMENT AS SET OUT IN COLUMN A OF APPENDIX F.



8.21.1 The provision of adequate car parking in new development is essential. The County Council uses a series of standards (See Appendix F) to assess the likely requirements for any specific proposal and these are a clear guide to the level of parking provision needed. Car parking standards associated with residential development are referred to in Policy H15 within the Housing Chapter.



HIGHWAY DIRECTIONAL SIGNAGE
POLICY T12
THE COUNCIL WILL ENCOURAGE THE COUNTY COUNCIL AS HIGHWAY AUTHORITY AND OTHER BODIES TO MINIMISE THE NUMBER AND SIZE OF HIGHWAY DIRECTIONAL SIGNS IN ORDER TO AVOID CLUTTER AND IN THE INTERESTS OF VISUAL AMENITY.



8.22.1 The Council has for some years pursued policies designated to enhance the quality of the local environment, particularly within its conservation areas (Policy C35), highway approaches to settlements (Policy C4) and the open countryside.



8.10.3 North of Newcastle the A1 has been upgraded to dual carriageway standard as far as Morpeth. North of Morpeth the Department for Transport intends only to provide a high standard of single carriageway to Scotland with lengths of dual carriageway to allow safer overtaking and improve safety. In 1989 the A1 Safelink campaign was established with the aim being to obtain the dualling of the A1 from Newcastle to Edinburgh, and for the Department for Transport to review its document "Trunk Roads, England, Into the 1990's".



8.16.3 A particular problem concerns the provision for and location of overnight parking facilities for heavy goods and commercial vehicles. If there is no restriction on lorries using town centre car parks overnight, there is often a significant detrimental effect on the amenity of town centre residents due to noise from engines and refrigerator generators and damage to surfaces, signs and landscape features when vehicles manoeuvre in restricted areas at low speeds. It may be more appropriate for specific provision to be made for overnight lorry parking immediately adjacent to trunk roads so that there is no detrimental effect to bypassed communities.



8.14.4 The approval of expansion of activity at the Otterburn Training Area has renewed calls for highway improvements to cater for the traffic generated within the area. As part of this, it is the Councils view that the upgrading of this link is required and that the U9037 Iron Sign road is the preferred route from the B6318 to the A69 as it can be readily improved, a portion of the road has already been upgraded and through traffic would be diverted away from the historic site of the Roman Fort at Rudchester.



FIG. 8.2 - B6318-A69 LINK ROAD, IRON SIGN ILLUSTRATIVE DIAGRAM







8.12.4 The LTP is also the means by which Central Government's expenditure on the road network (except motorways and trunk roads) is transferred to local authorities, primarily through Transport Supplementary Grant (TSG) and also by capital controls on borrowing. It also allows a longer term view of the transport proposals to be taken and considered in a more integrated manner. At the present time the County Council's highways budget is significantly less than that requested and the maintenance of the existing highway network has become increasingly difficult.



8.2.2 The Plan area contains parts of the main national and regional Trunk Road Network, which provide communications between the north-east of England and central Scotland, and London and other major conurbations to the south.



8.18.8 Passenger rail services are concentrated at Morpeth, which is a staffed station and enjoys a reasonably regular service to Newcastle on weekdays with a morning and evening Inter City train to Kings Cross or Leeds. Saturday services are similar but with a slight reduction in peak hour journeys. Sunday services are limited with currently one northbound and two southbound Inter City trains stopping. Work journeys to Edinburgh are, however, severely hampered by the lack of an early evening return service.



8.18.5 The general reduction in services is a long term trend likely to continue with reduced use of buses except for journeys to school. This will result in a further deregistration of uncommercial journeys by bus operators and a consequential worsening of quality of service particularly in rural areas. These trends put pressure on the County Council and District Councils to support non-commercially viable routes if current levels of services to rural areas are to be retained, let alone improved.



8.22.2 In June 1990 a street furniture, signage and lighting survey was undertaken for the Town Centre of Morpeth, which highlighted signage clutter as being detrimental to the quality of the built environment within the town centre. The findings of the report were accepeted as a basis for the enhancement of the town centre and Conservation Area and subsequently discussions have taken place with the County Council concerning the rationalisation of existing highway signage.



8.18.17 Most scheduled services provide an opportunity to carry cargo. Accordingly if these services expand the demand and opportunity for freight services and their ground handling facilities will also expand. The Airport Company has established a purpose built freight village on the southern side of the site, within Newcastle City, and this area is identified in the Master Plan for further expansion of these facilities.




8.19.2 Cycle use is higher in those areas where adequate facilities for cycling exist and where there is active encouragement of cycling by local authorities through publicity, campaigning and the provision of facilities. A number of measures can help to make cycling a more enjoyable experience and help to raise its profile. These include the designation of cycle routes on quieter roads in towns, cyclist friendly measures at large fast flow roundabouts and slip roads and the provision of cycling parking facilities, particularly in shopping centres and at community facilities.



8.19.9 Only a short section of the Tyne riverside route falls within the borough. However, this is part of an important recreational route for walkers, cyclists and horses, utilising former wagonways and opening up the Tyne Valley from Wylam to Newburn and the Tyneside conurbation.



8.19.8 The Reivers Route offers an alternative Coast to Coast Cycle route which is again part of the expanding Sustrans national Cycle Network and runs east-west through the southern part of the borough. This is part of a route from Tynemouth to Workington via Kielder and Carlisle that offers a more northerly alternative to the C2C. More locally the route serves to provide important recreational routes between Ponteland and Matfen, via Heugh, Stamfordham and Fenwick.



8.18.10 The two remaining stations in the Borough at Pegswood and Widdrington are both unstaffed and have a minimal commuter service.



8.12.2 The overall transport aim of the LTP is to "to create and maintain a safe, efficient and integrated transport system which maximises accessibility, minimises the adverse effect of traffic on the environment and communities, and facilitates the development of a strong economy and community"



8.14.2 A great deal of continuing concern is expressed about road safety and the inadequate standards on the single carriageway stretches of the A1 trunk route between Newcastle and Edinburgh. Northumberland County Council and the District Councils, the Lothian and Borders Regional Councils in Scotland and road users recognise the need for a realistic policy and programme for improvement. A joint initiative has been set up by the local authorities to collate information about the A1 and an approach has been made to the Scottish Office and the Department for Transport regarding the upgrading of the whole length of the A1 from Newcastle upon Tyne to Edinburgh to dual carriageway standard. A joint technical report by the Highways Authorities involved has been prepared and examines the role of the A1, its present standards, the accidents and traffic patterns and the likely effects of forecast increases in traffic up to 2010. The report concludes that, contrary to the views of the Secretary of State, improving the A1 would make a much greater contribution to road safety than many of the current schemes in the roads programme. There is a strong case for pressing the Scottish Office and the Department for Transport to adopt a policy to improve the A1 to dual carriageway standard between Newcastle and Edinburgh and for implementation to take place within the foreseeable future. The Council fully supports this proposal and will, through the policies of the Local Plan, assist in the realisation of this objective. As already stated in paragraph 8.10.5, the Government has now commissioned a full study into the future of the road and transport issues along the length of the A1 North of Newcastle. Any relevant proposals that are recommended from that study will be introduced into the Local Plan at the first opportunity.



8.18.11 Pressure on British Rail to reduce their demand on Central Government funds (the Public Service Obligation grant) has led to reductions in rail service frequency in the area but this has followed the general reduction in the use of rail services due to the growth in car ownership. The main effect has been on evening services, which have been reduced, and at weekends.



8.15.4 When the Morpeth Bypass was constructed in 1970 the agricultural accommodation overbridge here was built to the standard height clearance requirement of 5.1 metres, but not, however, to satisfy a high load clearance requirement of 6.1 metres As a result the largest loads have to pass through the centre of Morpeth with consequent delay and disruption to traffic, and damage to the foundations and the fabric of buildings. In addition, traffic management and environmental improvement schemes in Bridge Street, Market Place and Newgate Street are severely restricted in that allowance has to be made for these abnormally high loads. Accordingly there is a requirement to raise the height of this bridge.



FIG. 8.3 - A1068/B1337 JUNCTION ILLUSTRATIVE DIAGRAM






FIG. 8.4 - AGRICULTURAL ACCOMMODATION OVERBRIDGE A1 BYPASS ILLUSTRATIVE DIAGRAM






8.6.2 The location of Castle Morpeth Borough relative to the Tyneside Conurbation inevitably leads to a significant level of commuting from Ponteland and Darras Hall, Morpeth and other settlements. The majority of the commuting is by private car but bus transport and rail and Metro links (the new Metro terminal at Newcastle International Airport opened on 17 November 1991) play an important role.



8.12.3 There is an important two-way relationship between the Local Transport Plan and the District Local Plan. The District Local Plan (within the overall guidance of the structure plan) sets out the way development patterns are expected to change in the borough over the plan period. The Local Transport Plan takes this lead and ensures that transport development needs arising out of these proposals can be catered for in the most sustainable manner.



8.18.13 The Tyne and Wear Metro has been extended to Newcastle Airport and from December 1991 provided a new link to Central Station and the rest of the Metro network via the interchange at the Airport Terminal or at Callerton. Travel time to Central Station is around 20 minutes. Through booking is available from the British Rail network to Newcastle Airport, enhancing its appeal to a much wider catchment area. However, there are currently no plans for local bus services to connect with the Metro at either Newcastle Airport or at other Metro stations.




8.12.6 Other new highway schemes proposed within the Borough are not included in the 5 year programme as they have not been included in a Local Plan which has received a certificate of conformity with the County Structure Plan. These schemes are included in policies T1 and T2 of this Plan and will be considered for inclusion in the 5 year programme of the LTP.



8.19.4 By providing improved cycle routes from Morpeth to Newcastle, much can be done to encourage cycling over what is potentially an attractive distance for recreational and commuter cyclists. However, quieter roads are currently indirect and intersected by the A1, whilst the A1 itself is extremely busy. Works have been carried out on the A1 to improve conditions for cyclists, but a full audit of the routes within the corridor and subsequent improvements will be required to ensure safe conditions for cyclists.



8.20.2 Disabled people often encounter difficulties of access and egress to public transport facilities. Although not directly under the control of the Local Authority the council will encourage rail, road and air transport services to improve conditions for the disabled, through negotiation and use of the planning control system where appropriate.




8.18.14 Newcastle International Airport is amongst the country's largest airports, currently providing services for 3.2 million arriving and departing passengers each year. There is every indication that this trend will continue and it is estimated that the number of passenger movements may double over the next ten years. .



8.18.2 The Council operates a concessionary travel scheme for the elderly and disabled through the issue of a travelcard. The scheme is a joint venture operated by Alnwick District Council, Berwick upon Tweed Borough Council, Blyth Valley Borough Council and Castle Morpeth Borough Council, in association with Northumberland County Council. The travelcard allows those eligible to travel at half the single or return fare on all local services which start or finish within the administrative County of Northumberland.



8.18.12 The future of passenger rail services depends on funding the losses that continue to be made even on the Morpeth to Newcastle section of line. It appears that British Rail is very unlikely to close stations such as Pegswood and Widdrington, due to the current cost of doing so, but if financial pressure from Central Government continues it is quite possible that further frequency reductions may be considered. Pressure will continue to be exerted by the Council for Inter City to increase calls at Morpeth during weekdays. The local rail service could be improved through the provision of a rail halt at County Hall, Loansdean, to service existing and proposed office developments there.



8.22.3 The County Council has expressed support in principle relating to the control of unnecessary road and directional signage and has indicated that under the "Traffic Signs and General Directions Act 1981" there is the discretion within limits and subject to highway safety to vary the size of road signage to meet the requirements of individual and particular locations. The Council will encourage the adoption of minimum rather than maximum standards throughout the Borough.




8.19.5 This route is proposed to utilise quieter roads, to provide a route from the north-west of Morpeth, via Mitford and then in a northerly direction which follows minor roads parallel to the A697. This is an important cross-borough route which should assist in providing recreational opportunities in the north west of the borough and beyond into Alnwick District.



8.10.2 In the northern region the main improvements to the road infrastructure have been concentrated on the provision of a north-south link on the western side of Newcastle; together with other improvements in the overall trunk road network.



8.18.16 In 1997 the Airport Company published a Public Transport Action Plan. The Action Plan aims to further enhance the provision of first class public transport access to the airport, which already enjoys a direct connection to Newcastle and destinations in Tyne and Wear via the Metro Transit System.



8.18.7 The East Coast Main Line carries the only passenger services in the Borough, although freight traffic, mainly coal, still uses the line between Morpeth and Bedlington and mineral lines still serve specific coal disposal sites, such as that at Widdrington. Many other lines have fallen into disuse with the closure of collieries in the area.



8.18.3 Since the deregulation of bus services in 1986, bus operators have been expected only to operate commercial services. Any service that was no longer commercial and deregistered could be "bought back" or tendered for by the County Council under the 1985 Transport Act. Very few complete services have been deregistered but since 1986 there has been a steady "thinning out" of services and an overall reduction in mileage operated, with later starts and earlier finishes to some services. This trend is particularly worrying in relation to services for rural communities and a particular need has been identified for early morning journey to work services. Furthermore, the report "Towards 2010 - A Public Transport Strategy"(Nexus / T&W PTA, 1996) considers such an extension to be very unlikely.



8.15.3 Traffic flows are approximately balanced and the introduction of a roundabout has been considered as a possible means of alleviating conflict. However a roundabout would introduce delays to all traffic movement and be expensive to construct. Further monitoring is proposed to ascertain the need for and timing of appropriate measures.



8.18.4 Bus services in the Borough are concentrated on Ponteland/Darras Hall (A696), Morpeth (A1) and Heddon-on-the-Wall (A69) radial routes from Newcastle. Frequent services also run from Morpeth towards Alnwick, Ashington, Cramlington and Blyth but also from Ashington to Widdrington. However the rural area depends on less frequent often less than daily services, school and market day services and the post bus.



8.1.1 The Transportation chapter of the Local Plan sets out the broader historical planning background, together with the main aims, objectives and policies that relate to transport issues that are Borough wide. Locationally specific policies that relate to villages and towns are covered within the settlement chapters.



8.19.7 The Coast and Castles Route is already in operation and a successful part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network. Through Castle Morpeth, this provides an important coastal route, from Hadston Carrs at the North of the borough, via Druridge Bay, Cresswell and briefly inland via Lynemouth to provide links to Newbiggin, Ashington, Blyth and beyond. An inland return route is also being investigated which will run south via Eshott, Tritlington and Hebron to Morpeth. There are also possibilities of looking at east-west links such as the C115 (East Forest to Widdrington) Road, which was previously identified as a priority for improvements for cyclists as part of upgrading the A1-A1068 link.



8.19.6 Again leaving Morpeth via Mitford, this route is expected to open up the Wansbeck Valley to cyclists along minor roads. The route passes through Molesden, Meldon, Hartburn, Middleton and across to Wallington and to the borough boundary.



8.16.2 The management of traffic in town centres can best be achieved if there are appropriate alternative routes on which to assign the flows removed from central streets. Accordingly improvements to the town's strategic highway network will be a prerequisite for a town centre improvement scheme. Policy T1 (ii) contained in the Plan will provide the necessary improvements to Morpeth's highway network to enable the consideration of schemes to reduce and control the flow of traffic through the town centre.



8.16.4 The two significant commercial centres in the Borough are at Morpeth and Ponteland and accordingly detailed consideration of traffic management matters are contained in the relevant settlement chapters. However, the following general principles will need to be addressed where appropriate:-

i) The reduction of traffic volumes and vehicle speeds;
ii) The improvement of highway safety, with a presumption in favour of the pedestrian and cyclist;
iii) The improvement of accessibility and servicing for shops and business premises;
iv) The rationalisation and management of car and lorry parking;
v) The improvement of town centre environments and reduction of pollution from vehicles;
vi) The promotion of shopping and tourism.



8.8.2 Since 1986, the County Council has contracted a number of evening and Sunday services as well as individual journeys and market day services in the Borough. In particular most of the non-main road rural services are supported by the County Council. In the longer term, changes in land use patterns may lead to the development of bus services to meet new needs either on a commercial basis or, if a strong case can be established, with support from the County Council.



8.19.12 Whilst the resources now being made available for improvements to facilities for cyclists are increasing through the Local Transport Plan, it is also essential that their needs are being fully catered for as a part of other highway schemes. The cost of additional facilities for cyclists will often be a fraction of the entire scheme cost, but be much easier to integrate into the proposals at the outset rather than as an afterthought.



8.12.5 In the LTP for 2001/2006 the County Council has included the following schemes within Castle Morpeth for implementation during the next 5 years:-

New Roads

i) A1 to South East Northumberland Link Road Phase 1



8.10.4 Two recent reviews by the (then) Department of Transport have proposed, then reversed, progress in dualling the A1 within the Borough. The "Trunk Roads in England - 1994 Review" included the Morpeth to Lanehead scheme (which includes all of the A1 north of Morpeth to beyond the Borough boundary) as a "priority two scheme", but this was downgraded to a "scheme likely to be put on hold" in "Managing the Trunk Road Programme" (November 1995). The Council is most concerned that these decisions, together with the November 1996 Budget settlement, have reduced the proposed A1 improvements to minor local safety schemes.



8.14.3 As part of the A1 improvement campaign, there is a need at certain sensitive locations to provide grade separated junctions. Eight locations have been identified within the Borough. The Council is particularly concerned at the accident rates experienced at Stannington Station Road and both junctions serving Stannington Village, all south of Morpeth. The needs of other road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders should also be addressed. The Junction to the North of Stannington Village is to be addressed by the creation of a grade-separated junction, for which the funding has now been confirmed by the Government. It will be dependent on the outcome of a public inquiry into objections that have been raised to the scheme.

B6318-A69 Link Road, Iron Sign



8.19.10 Some provision within Morpeth, such as the footpath through Coopies Lane and the Cycle facilities down Whorral Bank has already been made. However, much can be done to improve the facilities for cyclists within Morpeth and make cycling a much more attractive option. The details of these proposals will be considered in the Morpeth Chapter of the Local Plan



8.1.2 Northumberland County Council is the Highways Authority and is responsible for all roads within the Plan area except Trunk Roads which are the concern of the Department for Transport. Accordingly the role of the Borough Council is principally an advisory one, apart from Morpeth Town, where there is an agency agreement between the County and Castle Morpeth passing responsibility for highway maintenance to the District Council. Nevertheless this Council plays an important role in determining highway policy for its area through the Local Plan.



8.18.15 Over the last ten years the airport has seen rapid growth in the establishment of new routes and the number of passengers carried in the scheduled services category, both domestic and international, have grown significantly and consistently. The Airport now links the North East to the major cities of Britain and Europe and is increasing its role as a key component of the region's infrastructure. A further important role of the airport is as an economic catalyst and shop window for the North of England and a strong argument can be made that the provision of an attractive first class airport is an essential part of encouraging the economic development of the region.



8.18.6 The Council may consider requests for subsidy of bus routes particularly in rural areas which become uneconomic due to lack of support and would assess each individual application on its merits.



8.19.11 In order to encourage more environmentally sustainable forms of transport and not to disadvantage those without access to a car, it is essential to ensure that proper access for cyclists is considered as an integral part of development schemes. If this consideration is made early in the design process, there is greater potential for the development to be attractive to those travelling by cycle. This relates to the circulation arrangements, the hierarchy of access routes and the provision of facilities for cyclists and their location.



8.15.2 Priority is currently given to north-south traffic and north bound traffic on the A1068 Primary Route is obliged to give way. The accident record has given cause for concern and in 1987 improved signing and carriageway markings were introduced. However, during the last three years four personal injury accidents have been recorded here.



8.19.3 The attractive countryside of the Borough, with many comparatively lightly trafficked roads makes it a popular area for recreational cycling, with clubs and groups from Tyneside frequently seen on the roads. The Council recognises that particularly in Morpeth, when traffic flows in and around the town centre are being assessed in detail, opportunities may arise for separating flows of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.




8.10.5 Since then, there has been increased concern about the A1 in Northumberland. The A1 Multi-Modal Study (A1MMS) - is looking into safety and operational issues on the A1 in the County and also into the potential for enhanced economic development and performance which may result from upgraded infrastructure. This study is looking at wider issues associated with public transport, road improvements, freight and traffic Management. Any relevant findings of this report will introduced into the Local Plan at the earliest opportunity.



8.18.9 Passenger observations indicate that the peak services to and from Morpeth are reasonably well utilised but patronage on local trains north of Morpeth has continued to fall over recent years. Changes made to coincide with the electrification of the East Coast Main line in July 1991 have reduced the local rail service north of Morpeth. Benefits from the scheme include faster journey times, greater reliability and comfort and savings on maintenance and fuel costs. A probable disbenefit will be an increased reluctance by British Rail for additional Inter City stops to be provided at Morpeth.



POLICY T5.
THE COUNCIL, IN CONSIDERING PROPOSALS FOR DEVELOPMENT, WILL HAVE REGARD TO THE EXISTING PROVISION OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT FACILITIES AND THE POSSIBILITY OF THEIR EXTENSION TO SERVE NEW DEVELOPMENTS.




8.18.19 Car ownership varies dramatically throughout the Borough, from 51.2% of households in the Chevington Ward having access to a car, to 92.6% of households in the Hebron, Hepscott and Mitford Ward. Public transport services, particularly bus services in the Borough, are concentrated both in and between the major settlements and in areas where car ownership is lowest. The Council is concerned that new development sites should be located on or close to public transport networks or, by nature of their scale in terms of residents or employees are sufficiently large that adequate services can be provided through normal market demand. The Council supports existing public transport services throughout the borough and in particular the council will support innovative measures to improve the level of public transport services in rural areas.




8.16.5 Any traffic calming measures should not adversely affect the operation of both the emergency services and the bus services. Other small schemes will be carried out in accordance with an annually approved programme based on the objectives set out in the County's Local Transport Plan.