City transport officials are pressing ahead with long-held ambitions to pedestrianise Blackett Street, which runs past Eldon Square and Grey’s Monument, in an effort to make the city centre’s main shopping area safer and less polluted.
A final four-week public consultation on the closure of the busy bus route is set to start next Monday, though if bus operators object to the plans then it would trigger a public inquiry to decide whether the scheme can go ahead.
Critics of the proposal have claimed that it will remove an important access point for people who rely on bus travel to access the city centre, particularly the elderly and disabled, and raised concerns about how the surrounding road network will cope with the rerouting of many buses.
Documents now reveal every change that Newcastle City Council is planning to make if and when Blackett Street is pedestrianised – including major shifts for delivery vehicles, taxi ranks and parking spots being removed, and new bus stop locations.
The authority says that the redesign will create a “seamless pedestrian area” through Northumberland Street to the Monument and pave the way for more events to be held in the city centre throughout the year.
If Blackett Street is closed to all through traffic, the following changes are also proposed:
Access will only be possible to Blackett Street, Eldon Square, Eldon Lane, Blackett Place, Northumberland Court and Brunswick Place for permit holders’ off-street car parking spaces and for deliveries.
This would be via the Blackett Street junction with Percy Street / Gallowgate;
- Access for deliveries would be permitted only from 10pm to 8.30am;
- Access for would be permitted 24/7 to access private car parking;
- The section of Blackett Street between Brunswick Place and Pilgrim Street would have no access to any vehicles at any time;
- Access restrictions would be introduced prohibiting motor vehicles on New Bridge Street West and Pilgrim Street north of Hood Street.
- Deliveries only would be allowed and only between 10pm and 8.30am;
- A one way restriction would be introduced westbound on New Bridge Street West from around the Dex car park entrance and southbound on Pilgrim Street north of Hood Street.
Further changes are also proposed on and around Northumberland Street to “declutter and reorganise the area”:
- Deliveries would only be allowed between 10pm and 8.30am;
- Northumberland Road west of John Dobson Street would have all parking removed, while two full-time taxi ranks and two loading/taxi areas would be created;
- The pedestrian area on Northumberland Road would be extended by approximately 20m;
- Northumberland Road, between John Dobson Street and College Street, would become disabled parking only; North Street would become disabled parking only, plus one loading bay;
- The service road between Primark and the NCP car park would only have a loading or taxi bay on the west side.
A raft of further proposals for other busy areas of the city centre are also included:
- Delivery times on Grey Street and the section of Grainger Street north of Nelson Street would be cut from between 5:30pm and 10am to only between 10pm and 8.30am;
- 24-hour disabled parking will be introduced on the north side of Hood Street. Hood Street would also retain its motorbike parking and a new loading bay will also be provided;
- A full time taxi rank is proposed on the south side of Shakespeare Street, with disabled parking on the north side and loading bays at either end.
- All existing pay and display parking would be removed from Shakespeare Street;
- 24-hour disabled parking and full-time loading bays would be provided on Nun Street;
- Additional taxi and loading provisions would be situated on Clayton Street;
- The night-time taxi rank on Newgate Street, near Grainger Street, would be removed;
- New bus stop locations would be provided in Market Street, John Dobson Street, and Grainger Street.
The council said: “Formal consultation on our planned traffic changes in the city centre will begin on Monday 13 September.
“These proposals are part of the wider transformation plans that are designed to breathe new life into our city streets, helping to create a more appealing place for people and support our businesses and economy.
“The consultation will last until midnight on Monday 11 October. Full details of the proposals and how to comment on them will be published next week.”