Ashington underpass plans not a “fait accompli”, public meeting told

Opponents of plans for a new underpass in Ashington have been assured the proposals are not set in stone.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 10:32 am
About 50 people turned out to a public meeting in relation to the underpass planning application organised by Ashington Town Council.

Concerns about the proposals, part of wider plans for the Northumberland Line rail project, have been growing since a planning application was lodged.

And objectors hope that increasing efforts to organise shows of opposition could force the scheme back to the drawing board.

About 50 people turned out to a public meeting on the issue organised by Ashington Town Council, where town clerk Mike Slaughter told them the revamped crossing was not a “fait accompli”.

He said: “I think everyone supports the Northumberland Line and everything it will bring to Ashington, but the underpass is about a public right of way,” he said.

“I have to find a way of legitimately and legally challenging the application [on behalf of the town council].

“There are a list of things which are valid planning objections and other things which aren’t.

“One of the things which is emerging is crime and disorder and residents are telling me about their real fear of crime and their fears are not being allayed by the people whose job it is to do that.”

If approved, the underpass would replace the existing level crossing between Darnley Road, on the eastern side of the railway tracks, and Roseneath Court to the west, known as the Hospital Level Crossing.

Once completed, the Northumberland Line is expected to return passenger services to what was previously known as the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne Line for the first time since the 1960s.

Graham Harding, whose home is likely to be next to the revamped crossing, said the meeting had shown opposition to the underpass scheme was more than “a couple of neighbours jumping on the bandwagon”.

Inspector Chrissie Skillen, of Northumbria Police, told the meeting: “We’re aware of the public’s concerns.

“We want to hear what the public have got to say [about the underpass plans] and we’ve to be objective.

“However, we have a designing out crime officer who deals with planning applications of this sort and as part of our response, we will be going back to say what the concerns raised were.”

Further details of the plans can be found in the planning section of Northumberland County Council’s website using the reference number 21/03780.