The top option for a new bus station in a busy Northumberland market town has been revealed.
Following Northumberland County Council’s controversial decision to sell Hexham Bus Station earlier this year, a study has found Loosing Hill in the town is the preferred option to develop a new bus station.
The results of a detailed study of a number of options, which were proposed by the town council earlier this year, were discussed at a joint meeting this week.
A county council commissioned study has scored each possible site against 27 criteria under five themes of: accessibility; functionality; sustainability; safety and security; and cost.
The preferred option is to develop a new bus station at Loosing Hill in the town, and detailed plans will now be developed. In February councillors voted unanimously to move ahead with the controversial sale despite a 2,000-name petition demanding the bus station remain where it is was being handed in to the council in February last year.
The council is arranging drop-in sessions in Hexham on Friday, July 11, to provide further information and engage with residents, local businesses and other key stakeholders on the process that has been undertaken and the preferred way forward.
Information will be available about all the options and the reasons why others have not been chosen as the preferred option.
Councillor Ian Swithenbank, policy board member responsible for streetcare and environment at Northumberland County Council, said: “The future of public transport facilities in the town is a strategic issue that will affect the vitality and viability of Hexham for many years to come.
“We commissioned this detailed appraisal of options for new bus facilities to help inform discussions in advance of any future decisions being made. No decision will be made until early Autumn and only after further consultation has been completed and options further developed.
“We have been very keen to ensure that the process is fair, open and transparent and that is why we have presented the results to the town council at the earliest opportunity and will be sharing them with the Hexham community very soon.”
Other options considered were Wentworth Car Park; Maiden’s Walk; Hexham Railway Station; on-street facilities on Priestpopple; the existing bus station site; the existing bus station site plus land to the south; and land at the south-west corner of Priestpopple and Corbridge Road.
It has been acknowledged that the current bus station does not meet modern requirements in terms of passenger environment, safe vehicle movement and effective separation of bus operations from general traffic and pedestrians.
The desire to redevelop the existing site is long-standing and originated from the former Tynedale Council.
The council has also been working with a developer over a number of years with a view to securing a regeneration scheme on the current site to benefit the whole town. It has agreed in principle to the sale of the site – but only after the re-provision of suitable bus facilities has been agreed.
Councillor Terry Robson added: “I would urge as many people as possible to come along and see the details of the options that have been considered, and the reasons why the preferred option of Loosing Hill is being proposed, which I personally support.
“It will also be your opportunity to raise any additional issues that you think need to be considered, and say what you would like to see in new bus facilities.”