Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Haven't Built the Roads, So Maybe You Shouldn't Build All These Homes; Highways Agency Throws Councils'plans for New Housing into Doubt

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Haven't Built the Roads, So Maybe You Shouldn't Build All These Homes; Highways Agency Throws Councils'plans for New Housing into Doubt

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson

SAFETY concerns over some of the region's busiest roads have been flagged up by road chiefs as councils try to finalise plans for 30,000 new homes to be built on Tyneside.

The Highways Agency has told Newcastle and Gateshead councils that the A1 and the A19 could struggle with the extra traffic that would come if new houses were built nearby. The two councils are currently fighting to secure final permission for their One Core Strategy, set to outline where the next generation of Tyneside homes will be built.

And while the Highways Agency has agreed to drop some objections if the council plans acknowledge the work going on to widen the A1, it has still raised serious stumbling blocks for key sites.

Officials from the agency have said they are particularly concerned about longer-term plans for some 850 new homes planned for the Metrogreen area around the Metrocentre.

Their evidence to the planning inquiry currently ongoing at Gateshead Civic centre states that "the agency has had long-standing concerns that it has raised with Gates-head regarding the proposals for Metrogreen and the potential impact further significant development could have."

Agency officials have also told a Government-appointed planning inspector that work to build thousands of new Tyneside homes may have to be delayed until a scheme to widen the A1 Western Bypass is completed two years from now.

The agency said: "While the delivery of the improvements will not be immediate, the agency would be willing to accept some impact on the network on the short term to allow some development to take place.

"However, this would only be up to a level before safety could become compromised. At this point it may be necessary for further development to be constrained until the A1 improvements have been completed." That concern has already been picked up on by green belt campaign group Cities for People, who said in their submission to the inquiry: "Until this scheme is completed the gross overuse of the Gateshead western bypass will worsen."

Planning inspector Martin Pike will hear those concerns this week as part of the public examination of the council plans. At the same meeting, the region's biggest home builders will seek to convince the inspector that the A1 can cope with some extra traffic before those road works are completed. …

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