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Business & Economy

Big changes coming to support safer and greener travel in Newcastle City Centre

Plans that would transform Newcastle’s Grey Street are being considered by council leaders to make it easier for those who need to travel to do so safely and with social distancing in place.

Newcastle City Council are also looking at how city-wide transport networks can be changed to meet increasing demand for space to walk and cycle.

It is thought that new measures and road layouts, starting in the city centre, will be introduced quickly to meet the short-term need to get the city moving again as coronavirus restrictions start to ease.

The plans could also help deliver longer term ambitions for a cleaner and greener transport network that encourages more active travel and a reduction in car journeys.

The council is working with partners such as NE1, Northumbria Police, the universities and the NHS Trust to develop the plans.

With non-essential shops potentially opening from June 1, the focus in the short term will be on the city centre, district shopping centres and the main transport routes in and out of these areas.

Plans are being developed to manage the flow of people walking and queuing on the city’s main shopping streets, including the introduction of one-way pedestrian systems and markings on the ground to indicate the 2 metre distance, walkways and queuing areas.

City ‘marshalls’ may be used to help people understand the new system both for how to get about the area, and where to queue.

Initially, these measures will be introduced in areas such as Northumberland Street and Blackett Street, as well as Queen Victoria Road and St Thomas’ Street, which are both key links to the RVI.

Changes in district shopping centres such as Gosforth High Street could also be brought forward in the coming weeks.

Grey Street (pictured) will see measures put in place including the removal of the majority of on-street parking to create more space for people to walk or for businesses to use as they return.

Traffic will be restricted to only travelling one-way heading southbound and a protected northbound cycle lane will be introduced.

Measures will be kept under review and altered as necessary, as the city’s response moves from short-term requirements into a system that reflects longer term ambitions.

Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council said: “Our city is facing a huge economic challenge in terms of its recovery from coronavirus and we know that working together is the best way we can support one another to get us back on our feet.

“It’s important that our immediate focus is on how people can safely move around – whether to go to work or to shop, when that is possible – with proper social distancing and space to walk and cycle, which people are choosing to do increasing numbers.

“We have to address these fundamental issues first and foremost to help businesses as they begin to reopen and start the process of rebuilding our economy.

“At the same time, we must not lose sight of our longer term ambitions for a healthy, vibrant and welcoming city – one that is not choked by traffic and pollution.

“We will be looking closely at how these short term and essential measures that we are introducing now can help us move towards the city that we want future generations to be able to enjoy.”