Planning Subgroup report to Tyne & Wear Access Forum February 2013

Activity & Membership: the subgroup meets every 6 – 8 weeks, its business in 2 halves:

1. General and Tyne & Wear/North East - wide issues;

2. Individual Borough/City issues and reports.

We have no members resident in Gateshead or So Tyneside, so we welcome the Publicity and Membership (PAM) group’s proposals, hoping to strengthen our membership.

  1. General and Tyne & Wear/N East – wide:

NE Coast Path consultation: the report and map are now published for Phase 1, from Seaton Carew (Hartlepool) to South Bents (Sunderland/So Tyneside boundary). The planning subgroup responded to the consultation:

  1. Suggesting amendment to the map/proposed route at Ryhope Dene: this has been incorporated into the map recently issued;
  2. Suggesting cooperation with e.g. Limestone Landscapes for future path maintenance;
  3. Calling for opening the South. Bents – Tyne stretch at the earliest date: this is the most scenic part of the NE coast, and foot & cycle paths and bridleways already exist (i.e. sort out the ¼? mile “missing link” at Whitburn village & shooting range).

Site visit November ’12 – Bowes Path (Gateshead): a very interesting visit, hosted by Rob Hindhaugh and Mary Richardson of Gateshead Council, with 2 stops: Birtley (urban fringe) and Kibblesworth (semi rural). In both we witnessed serious rain damage to the Bowes Path from the summer of 2012, rather than from winter weather as in the past.

Are summer and winter damage a potential new trend - and threat - due to climate change? The financial implication of twice-yearly damage is serious; existing RoW budgets cannot meet the cost (NB in this case other budgets were tapped into – A1 underpass a key issue).

Next site visit: Wed 6 March, to Sunderland’s urban fringe - Hetton Lyons Country Park (former colliery land on Co Durham boundary) and Stephenson Trail, Hetton - Houghton.

National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) Guidance on positive health outcomes from walking & cycling: this has been overtaken as from April 2013 Local Authorities take over public health duties from the NHS. The Chair’s report will consider this further.

  1. Borough & City issues & reports - summary

N Tyneside: following outsourcing of services, North Tyneside Council has clarified that Graeme is still RoW officer/LAF contact. Tony is looking into a security fence/RoW closure that pushes pedestrians and cyclists onto a much less safe route.

Newcastle: we are pursuing issues regarding routes around & through Great Park, following September ’12 site visit, in particular link-ups and bridleway routes.

Gateshead: we are following the progress of the application for a diversion/link to Keelman’s Way at Derwenthaugh. Seek further info (Neil?) re progress on repairs along Keelman’s Way/embankment.

So Tyneside: ST Council contacted in August ’12 (Kathy) regarding Lizard Lane in Marsden. Road verges are now hazardous for pedestrians, cyclists and riders to escape traffic, as there is no pavement and contractors dumped waste from road widening on verges. Ron & Victor walked the route in November ’12: there are particular danger spots on blind summit and sharp bends. We are waiting for a response from the Council.

Postscript: an application to fence land near So. Shields Town Centre led Ron & Victor to walk the relevant section of National Cycle Route 1. The application does not affect this metalled, off-road cycle & pathway, which is very well marked and signposted.

Sunderland: New housing development on former Broomhill Estate if extended to waste ground beyond will involve stopping up Stephenson Trail path & bridleway (NB one of our site visits in March ’13). Tim Ducker clarifies that finer details depend on the construction timetable, assuming the extension/Phase 2 goes ahead.

Disruption should be minimised e.g. with marshalled crossing, but in the event of a complete closure this would be temporary and an alternative route(s) sought.

Generally: there are particular issues for bridleways: access, road crossings, through links and circuitous routes. Several issues raised by Kathy/BHS in 2007 are still not resolved, some not adequately answered. Of special concern is that some bridleways are being downgraded – at least in practice, as raised by Kathy.

Victor Cadaxa (subgroup Chair), 31 January 2013

Next Planning subgroup meeting: Tues 19 February, 10.20 for 10.30 prompt

Gateshead Civic Centre (canteen)