Newcastle Blue House roundabout monster plan

Blue House plan aerial view

The proposed Blue House roundabout is being called locally the ‘Gosforth suppository’ (it is lozenge-shaped and the planners intend to shove it at the bottom end of Gosforth). Perhaps it is no accident that the ‘consultations’ are taking place at the start of the school holidays. At these events the public is being told that nothing is set in stone but clearly the plans are well advanced so unless there are strong protests this wretched scheme will be bulldozed through by our Labour council.

Blue House plan-map

The giant roundabout planned for the Blue House to the north of Newcastle city centre, just south of the first houses in Gosforth. It is part of a package costing some £60 million now being spent on roads in Newcastle. The highway planner in charge of the scheme apparently told an enquirer that the scheme is designed to increase traffic. Growth is indeed the mantra of the city council. Already, more traffic is set to be pumped onto these roads by new housing at Whitehouse Farm to the NE of the area.

But that extra traffic is not all. Past experience suggests that the widened roads and speedier roundabouts will, by themselves, attract more vehicles anyway (the ‘rebound effect’). Thus the problems of congestion, air pollution and accidents will return sooner or later, while nearby housing will be blighted and great green space lost. None of this is evident on the visualisation below which shows just a few cars using the verdant new roundabout. 

Blue House plan

 

Council rhetoric can distract attention for what is a huge land grab, gouging out big chunks of the Town Moor (Dukes Moor and Little Moor sections). However, no figures were available at the consultation regarding the scale of the loss. None of the fancy computer visualisation showed the site as it is in comparison what is planned. However, the designers had managed to cover the visualisation with lots of mature trees (perhaps not surprisingly, there were no figures for the number of trees to be cut down)

Also lacking in the maps, visualisations and other material at the consultation on the two schemes was any mention of the severe ‘pinch points’ between the two sites, especially to the east of the T-junction with Osborne Road. Presumably, at some stage, the council planners will be back demanding more land for more roadways. For the time being, they have another trick up their sleeves, one buried in the details. It  is the stopping of the turn right into Jesmond’s Osborne Road for traffic coming eastwards from the new roundabout.

In the planners’ tunnel vision, the only way to keep a higher volume of traffic moving smoothly on this stretch of road is to remove the turn right lane. That will stop the 33 bus route that goes from Gosforth to the city centre via Jesmond.This road alteration will also force traffic coming from Gosforth to Jesmond to head south and enter Jesmond via Clayton Road or Forsyth Road. Both are highly unsuitable in terms of greater vehicle usage.

The current problems at the existing Blue House roundabout are largely caused by bad drivers. The emphasis should be on that. There may be several options, perhaps installing traffic lights (at least for part of the day), perhaps reducing the size of the roundabout’s centre (its size forces drivers to swing outwards), perhaps removing the two lane right turn (whose existence seems to confuse some drivers who dangerously cross lanes whilst turning right).

No amount of cosmetics can guise the destructiveness of the scheme nor its long-term ineffectiveness. The only sustainable plan is one that reduces the number of cars and lorries on the roads. In particular, it has to be made easier, cheaper and quicker to not use a car than to use one. That message might not be popular in many quarters. But it is the only way forward. All else is at best gimmickry and this plan is far worse.

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