A Low Traffic Neighbourhood has been installed under an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) in East Jesmond on 6th March 2023. The delivered designs filter motor traffic using bollards which have been installed on Osborne Avenue, Shortridge Terrace, Buston Terrace, Manor House Road back lane and Cavendish Road. The installation does not include Grosvenor Road or Grosvenor Avenue at the time of writing; our community-led design from 2020 included those streets, and we still recommend that they are included in order to create a full Low Traffic Neighbourhood.
Our designs are our own work, and are just the ideas of a group of residents about how a Low Traffic Neighbourhood might look in Jesmond, and what the benefits could be. All residents have been able to feed in via Councillors or the Council’s neighbourhoods team. Because we are a group that campaigns for a safe pedestrian and cycling environment – including LTNs – we have kept relevant material and are able to share this timeline about the development of the LTN in East Jesmond.
The actual process of getting to this point has been a long one; over two and a half years. This post sets out that timeline.
20th May 2020 – UK releases Active Travel Fund to fund walking and cycling, including LTNs.
27th July 2020 – UK Government publishes “Gear Change: a bold vision for cycling and walking.” This sets out the Conservative government’s policies including the installation of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. The policy calls for action at “all levels of government” – which means Local Authorities are instructed to comply with it. A Local Transport Note (confusingly, also abbreviated to “LTN”) is also released setting out design standards.
31st July 2020 – “Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – have your say: from Cllr Wendy Young” is circulated around Jesmond via the Jesmond Residents Association. This sets out the aim to reduce non-local traffic. Responses are invited and details about LTNs are given via a powerpoint document.
1st August 2020 – SPACE for Jesmond campaign group members organise a zoom meeting to consider a response to the publicised call for feedback about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.
5th August 2020 – first SfJ LTN meeting takes place. We use an online tool called Mural to plan out potential filter points (bollards) across Jesmond according to the principles of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Attendees all either lived in Jesmond or had children attending West Jesmond Primary School. No attendees to any of the meetings held any position with the Council, either as an officer or a Councillor, and there were no commercial interests.
12th August 2020 – second SfJ LTN planning meeting
25th September 2020 – third SfJ LTN planning meeting
15th October 2020 – Our community-led design is sent to Cllr Wendy Young, Transport Portfolio holder Cllr Arlene Ainsley and Head of Transport at Newcastle City Council, Graham Grant.
19th October – Cllr Wendy Young confirms receipt of our designs.
Winter 2021 – Newcastle City Council’s “CityLife” magazine runs a double page spread on plans for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods across Newcastle.
14th January 2022 – Newcastle City Council distribute a leaflet explaining the plans to reduce through traffic in Jesmond including the use of planters and bollards. The leaflet invited responses via phone or email.
26th January 2022 – we respond to Newcastle City Council’s neighbourhoods team by re-sending our 2020 designs. We say ” it is vital that a scheme addresses traffic problems across the whole area, as we recommend, so that traffic is not displaced from one residential street onto another.”
Spring 2022 – Newcastle City Council “CityLife” magazine runs a double page spread on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, asking people not to drive to school, and the clean air zone.
12th May 2022 – Tony Waterston arranges a talk at Jesmond Library as part of Jesmond Community Festival to discuss the general concept of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Both a SPACE for Jesmond member and a council officer are invited to speak, and the officer gives a short presentation on the LTN developed and delivered in Fenham. The talk is publicised by the Library and via the Jesmond Residents Association.
15th June 2022 – Liberal Democrat flyer “North Jesmond Focus” is distributed and sets out several options being considered for East Jesmond LTN, including “Option C” which filters out all through-traffic in the area and includes Grosvenor Road and Grosvenor Avenue.
20th July 2022 – Cllr Jane Byrne is appointed as cabinet member for “Connected, Clean City.” We write an open letter asking her to push ahead with a low traffic neighbourhood. At this point, it has been 2 years since the announcement of Government funding and the initiation of Low Traffic Neighbourhood planning for Jesmond.
Winter 2022 – Newcastle City Council “CityLife” magazine runs an article on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and School Streets, including the intention to develop them in High West Jesmond and East Jesmond.
7th February 2023 – Pre-consultation launched via Commonplace
9th February 2023 – We publish article supporting the measures – but want to see Grosvenor Road included.
15th February 2023 – we feed back to Newcastle City Council that there are concerns of increased traffic on Grosvenor Road and Jesmond Dene Road. We suggest including these in the filtering (via bollards).
26th February – a number of residents groups (including SPACE for Jesmond) and other residents are invited to a zoom call with Cllr Jane Byrne.
6th March 2023 – installation of bollards across Osborne Avenue, Shortridge Terrace, Buston Terrace, Manor House Road back lane and Cavendish Road under ETRO. In line with the ETRO process, full consultation is launched simultaneously.
There has been over two and a half years between the initial request for feedback from Jesmond residents and the installation of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood in East Jesmond. During that period of time we have written a number of letters to councillors and the council themselves, which is in line with our stated aims, available on our homepage.
This week, Newcastle City Council have released the latest in a series of plans to make neighbourhoods in the city safer for walking, cycling and wheeling. The latest plans are for Jesmond East, from Osborne Avenue to Grosvenor Road.
The designs mean that while anyone can still drive anywhere they like – at any time – through-traffic is removed by using “modal filters.” These are just bollards that anyone can walk, cycle or scoot through, but are closed to motor vehicles. Analysis by SPACE for Jesmond in 2020 showed this type of neighbourhood design means big gains for the safety and feel of the neighbourhood, and minimal impact on resident’s driving times except for very short car journeys, which are what the scheme is designed to address by supporting more walking and cycling.
Most estates built in the UK since the 1940s have a similar approach to motor traffic, and of course large parts of Jesmond have been like this for years.
Summary of changes
Streets from Osborne Avenue through to Cavendish Road will have through-traffic removed
Grosvenor Road retains through access – a key difference to our 2020 plan
Direct through routes from Osborne Road to Cradlewell are removed – except via Manor House Road and Grosvenor and the Jesmond Dene Road (see map)
Safer for children, walking and cycling
We think the council’s plans are robust and match up well to our 2020 proposal for the area. We’ve been pushing for these changes for quite a few years now and it’s great to see decision makers rising to the challenge and doing something that will truly make the area safer for walking, cycling and just being out and about in general. We’ll be feeding back in full to the council separately and will share our thoughts on a separate post.
Streets are for people to live, not cars to drive through
We strongly support the removal of through-traffic from the area, which is a key feature of the council’s plans. Streets like Osborne Avenue are just that – streets – designed for access to residences and not simply a through road. We do not believe Jesmond should be used to ease pressure on the busy A1058 Coast Road. These plans will make our streets safer, cleaner, and more social.
What happens now?
The scheme is in a pre-consultation phase. The pre-consultation website is here:
Changes to be made in March 2023 for a period of 18 months
Full consultation opening around September 2023
Our position on these plans
We fully support these plans – these are significant changes which we see as impactful, but we would also like to see Grosvenor Road removed as a through route.
We would also like to understand what monitoring the council have in place on Grosvenor Road and Jesmond Dene Road, and what mitigating measures they would implement if there is an increase in motor traffic on those roads.
We recommend some changes and mitigating measures which we will address in a subsequent post.
Councillor Jane Byrne is the cabinet member for “Connected, Clean City” in Newcastle City Council. We wrote to Cllr Byrne on the 20th July 2022 following the unprecedented heatwave which swept across the UK and other parts of the world, driven by human-caused global heating. That letter calls for prompt delivery on Low Traffic Neighbourhood plans in Jesmond, and is published below.
Dear Coun Byrne,
We are greatly relieved to hear you speak out in support of measures to address climate change in yesterday’s Chronicle article after the record breaking temperatures driven by climate change.
Those of us who campaign for action to fight climate change are constantly disappointed by delays, backtracking and watering-down of schemes that can deliver real change. We get it – some of the changes mean people will need to change things in their day to day life and this can be a political challenge – but we cannot wait for a universal consensus and our leaders must recognise this.
We have been involved with council consultations and working groups for quite a number of years now, with very little change apparent. Some £430k of the £1 million allocated to Jesmond as part of the 2015 Cycle City Ambition 2 allocation (Streets for people) remains unspent. When the news that Jesmond was to be upgraded to a Low Traffic Neighbourhood with a School Street was announced, we were delighted. We know that LTNs can and have delivered real change for residents in other areas. We were advised that these schemes would be consulted on and rolled out in 2022, but we have not heard from the council since. We’re very worried about this.
We believe that all changes are local, and that addressing the climate crisis requires a union of thousands of small local actions. Space for Jesmond are therefore asking you to push ahead with a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Jesmond in 2022. With 24% of private car journeys being under 2 miles, the scope is there to make a dent in our emissions, as well as make a safer, cleaner, greener environment for the residents of Jesmond.
Under a new City Council scheme, Jesmond, alongside other neighbourhoods across the city, is set to become a Low Traffic Neighbourhood. The aim is to reduce the volume of non-local traffic in Jesmond, while still allowing access for motor vehicles. This will enable more people to use active modes of transport such as walking and cycling.
Initially, any changes made will be temporary, with a view to making them permanent at a later date should they prove successful.
To support this, SPACE for Jesmond team have submitted a proposal for the redesign of Jesmond as a Low Traffic Neighbourhood.
Our proposal, which covers North Jesmond and South Jesmond wards, was submitted to Newcastle City Council as part of their call for ideas from local residents to shape and implement the scheme.
What is a Low Traffic Neighbourhood?
A Low Traffic Neighbourhood, or LTN, is a residential area with no through traffic. This is normally achieved with bollards and planters which allow cycles to pass through, but not motor traffic (these are known as “modal filters”).
No one loses access: all residents and businesses maintain full access to all properties.
What are the benefits?
The benefits of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood are quieter, safer streets, and when our neighbourhood feels safe it becomes a more sociable, friendly and fun place. The lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic gave us all direct experience of how our neighbourhood felt with less motor traffic and how much nicer it was to walk or cycle for everyday trips to the shops or parks; children played with siblings in the street, families cycled around the neighbourhood and neighbours chatted, albeit at a distance. The UK government have made funding available to councils to make that change permanent. Even as businesses return to normal and people return to office working, there is no reason that motor traffic has to cut through residential areas instead of using the main roads, and this is an opportunity to make nicer neighbourhoods our “new normal.”
Children benefit in a big way from Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Playing in the street no longer has to be a thing of the past and we could once again see groups of children walking themselves to school without a parent in tow, freeing up time for parents too. Local businesses benefit; neighbourhoods which are more pleasant encourage people to shop local, rather than hopping in the car to go to a soulless business park.
Jesmond already has Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – but we can have more
23% of Jesmond is already a Low Traffic Neighbourhood. Reid Park Road and the streets to the north had bollards placed along Jesmond Dene Road when the road was closed to motor traffic in 2015, creating a quieter, safer neighbourhood for local residents. There are other other area of Jesmond which enjoy these benefits too, such as Jesmond Vale.
The remaining area of Jesmond however, is open to through traffic. The widespread availability of satellite navigations systems and smartphones in the last decade has meant many more vehicles are avoiding main roads and working their way through back streets in the name of saving a minute or two on journey time. This increase is apparent across the UK with the government reporting a massive increase in traffic on residential streets, and the side effect is that our neighbourhoods feel less safe to get around by foot or cycle.
There are other areas of Newcastle which are home to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods too – most post World War 2 housing developments are residential estates consisting of cul-de-sacs with no through traffic, and these areas remain popular with families, despite the fact they lack the shops, swimming pools and cafes of older suburbs like Jesmond. When low traffic measures are added to an area like Jesmond, you get the benefit of lower traffic levels, but much better walkability and local services than a modern estate – a winning combination.
A Low Traffic Neighbourhood will work well in Jesmond
A Low Traffic Neighbourhood will work well in Jesmond. Our area is extremely walkable with nearby shops and services but also has several main roads around its perimeter which are designed for motor traffic. This means that short trips within Jesmond are typically a 5 to 15 minute walk or a 5 to 10 minute cycle, and motor traffic can easily access the main roads – the Coast Road, Great North Road and Osborne Road – without any difficulty.
When through traffic is removed, access to the neighbourhood is generally by the nearest main road. Our analysis, provided to Newcastle Council, shows that the increase in journey time for trips that would previously have been made by cutting through Jesmond’s residential streets is only a few minutes – and that “going the long way round” makes little difference except for the shortest of trips which could be walked in under 15 minutes anyway. One of the aims of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods is to discourage very short car journeys and encourage people to walk or cycle instead, which becomes much easier and more pleasant with the greatly reduced traffic.
What we’re asking for
We believe the best way to implement a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Jesmond is to do it properly, and not by half measures. What we’re asking Newcastle City Council for is:
Stop through traffic – don’t just try to slow it down
Make space for children – it should be safe for them to get around
Visually nice – adding greenery to our streets
Be clear – this will mean changes for some people’s usual routes
Be confident – even though changes can be difficult, people love Low Traffic Neighbourhoods once they’re in place
How you can show your support
Newcastle City Council’s consultation will be opening on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in due course, and we encourage you to engage in this process.
You can email your ideas and thoughts about making Jesmond a safer, nicer place by reducing motor traffic to North Jesmond Councillor Wendy Young – firstname.lastname@example.org – who is collecting initial ideas from the community.