A Northumberland bus station could be replaced with houses as part of new plans to redesign a town centre.
Under proposals by Northumberland Council, Hexham bus station could close and services maybe supplied via a series of lay-bys along Priestpopple.
Earlier this year a 2,000 name petition demanding the bus station to remain where it is was handed in.
The scheme would also involve moving the statue of Boer War hero Colonel George Benson from the spot it has occupied in Beaumont Street for more than a century.
The old soldier might have to be moved to make way for a roundabout at the junction of Beaumont Street with Battle Hill. It is also understood that the Hero of Brakenlaagte’s memorial, erected in 1904, will have to be moved around eight feet. The Benson’s Gates at the entrance to the Abbey Grounds, and the extended footpath on the western side of Beaumont Street would also have to be sacrificed to allow buses to access the street.
County council leader Grant Davey said: “We think we’ll have a workable proposal to bring forward for consultation in early 2014. I think local residents and businesses will see the benefits of opening up the town and making it more accessible.
“We think this development will provide a real shot in the arm to the local economy and it will complement the return to the town of council services in Prospect House.”
Talks are underway with potential developers, who could produce the £500,000 scheme to open up Hexham town centre.
Planners are working on a feasibility study which would see a bus service operating through the town centre to access ‘lower’ Hexham for the first time. Previously, proposals to create a new bus station at the Loosing Hill car park were abandoned after a hail of protest from local people.
And in February a petition with 2,000 signatures insisting that the bus station be retained in the town centre was handed to the council.
Mayor of Hexham councillor Terry Robson said he didn’t think moving Benson’s Monument would be the end of the world for the town. He said: “If they can’t turn into Beaumont Street, they would have to go all the way through to Quatre Bras to turn into Eilansgate - and that’s an even worse junction.
“Benson’s Monument would only have to be moved a few feet, and I find it more upsetting to think that those lovely gates into the park, and that nice sweep of pavement would have to go.”