Traders and residents have come out in force to try and save a popular suburban shopping street.
Shopkeepers fear council plans to transform Gosforth High Street in Newcastle into a ‘red route’ no stopping zone would effectively ‘kill the high street’ and could even affect house prices.
Concerned members of a newly formed campaign group have so far collected 600 signatures against the proposals, which Newcastle city council has suggested alongside a raft of measures to alleviate traffic problems on the busy road.
If the red route gets the go-ahead from residents it could be in place by the autumn.
Leaders of STURR, which stands for Stop the Unecessary Red Route in Gosforth, launched their campaign by installing placards and posters outside shop fronts and in gardens yesterday.
Antique dealer Daniel O’Brien Thompson, of The Drive, Gosforth, said: “This is not London, it’s not Prince’s Street in Edinburgh, this is Gosforth.
“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. This is a no-win situation for shopkeepers. The congestion problems in Gosforth are for an hour or two in the morning or an hour at night.
“Of my experience of this in London it just shuts all the shops down because people don’t want to risk going into a red route area.”
The £3m Gosforth Transport Improvement Scheme announced by the council last year was consulted upon before Christmas and includes changes to major junctions including Church Road and Salters Road.
Salters Road carpark would have to be significantly reduced in size to cope with the new junction lay-out and the STURR group residents are also against this decision.
The plan also proposes the introduction of new cycle paths at Christon Road to the Town Moor via Alwinton Terrace and Moor Road North and South.
Owner of Melanie’s Coffee Shop, Sheila Harvey, said: “I wasn’t pleased at all to hear the plans. They will kill Gosforth High Street. People will just avoid it. We have trouble parking anyway so this will just increase the problem.
“The council first introduced residents only parking about 12 years ago and it’s just snowballed from there.”
Shopkeeper Ruth McPate, who has owned Jump children’s footwear shop on the High Street since 2006, said: “I have a lot of deliveries and there will be problems with them stopping off.
“We are trying desperately in this country to encourage people to support the high street and keep them alive and it feels everything is being done not to help us.
“If there’s empty shops along the high street the house prices will plummet as well.”
The group’s petition will be handed to Newcastle City Council and residents and shopkeepers hope the red route and car park reduction will be dropped from the final plans.
Harvey Emms, Assistant Director of Development for Newcastle City Council, said: “We will provide a detailed briefing for residents and businesses on red routes and how they work for the benefit of residents and businesses.
“If approved we expect to be in a position to put in a red route in the autumn, but work on the safety schemes will start sooner.
“We are determined to sustain the urban appeal of the High Street by making improvements to traffic conditions and road safety in Gosforth.
“We’ve asked residents what changes they wanted to see and have used these survey results to draw up plans for improvements in the Gosforth area which will help address some of the traffic concerns.
“We have consulted on the final proposal for the junction improvements and the cycle safety scheme and we are now moving towards implementation.
“We will see some preparation works begin in around two weeks.
“Road improvements on the High Street are subject to a separate process as it relies on specific traffic management procedures.
“We are currently working up options that give protection to cyclists but also provide support for pedestrians and road users, retailers and residents.
“We will begin consulting on this process shortly and there will be options presented giving an explanation of dependencies and consequences of each option.”