Thursday, 4 August 2011

Sequencing Prudhoe's new town centre

One of the oft repeated comments I get put to me reflects the concern people have about how Prudhoe will function whilst its planned new town centre is made. Two existing blocks of shops are to be demolished and I know that business people in them and nearby are very concerned about the direct impact on their livelihood. I shall suggest what is only my personal take on how the changes could be achieved.

The over riding reflection I offer is to reduce the impact on Front Street and its businesses as greatly as possible. Personally for me an end outcome is also no lasting change to the traffic management on Station Bank. A temporary change is a different matter however if it enables the first sentence of this paragraph to be achieved. To start the development I would create a temporary access off Station Bank. The entire area of former allotments through to the car park and the Legion building area would then become "site". Leaving aside the issue of the housing adjacent to Station Bank for now (this is phase 2 in the plan), I would then build whatever had been approved of the main retail etc development running back from Front Street but leaving the two existing blocks on Front Street intact and functioning.

Once the development behind Front Street had been built a temporary access into it from Front Street could be created using existing roads. At this point traders in one of the blocks to be demolished on Front Street could be invited to move into the new development. And the development could start functioning in a part completed manner. With one block cleared of occupants, it could then be demolished and whatever had been approved of the new development in that area completed. The process would then be repeated for the second block. And once that was demolished and the new development in its footprint finished, what the developers call Phase 1 would then be complete. At which point for my money, because the proper accesses off Front Street would then exist and because I have no faith in the long term wisdom of an access onto Station Bank, that access would be closed. Although I accept that the experience of having a temporary access during construction may itself become a useful indicator of which way the long term judgement on that matter would go. I would want to see a very robust planning condition that governed this matter.

What is written here is purely to answer the question about minimising disruption. It is not to prejudge the actual content of the plan which as everyone knows is the subject of heated debate. If a reader has not seen them, the thoughts in this blog about what I call The Hanging Gardens of Prudhoe could be read. And a final aside, if in Phase 1 engineering assessments found coal on the site, why not take it out? And if any such hole was capable of accomodating a multi storey car park would that not solve a problem. A car park that had a garden or such like on top. Search in my Facebook and a photo of just one such is offered.

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