Ashington councillors and officials have welcomed the start of work on a project to re-open Station Road to through traffic.
The major Northumberland County Council scheme has been designed to boost local trade, improve the overall look of the street and help deliver wider economic benefits as part of the on-going regeneration of the town centre.
It follows widespread consultation with Ashington Town Council, the Town Team, local traders and residents – with 95 per cent in favour of the proposal to open the street to traffic one-way (westbound).
The pedestrianisation of Station Road dated from the 1990s and was introduced in an effort to help stimulate local trade, but it became clear from stakeholder feedback that the time was right to re-evaluate the street and its use.
Michelle Brannigan, Ashington Town team co-ordinator, said: “We are looking forward to Ashington becoming the bustling busy town centre it once was, as opening up Station Road to one-way traffic will provide much needed passing trade and the pedestrian area on the north side will allow for events and markets to attract people into the town centre.”
There will be a 20mph speed limit and the proposed on-street parking will have a limited waiting restriction of 30 minutes, with no return within two hours.
The aim is to promote a high turnover of motorists using the street and prevent the bays being used as a place for employees to park all day.
Coun Stephen Fenwick, leader of Ashington Town Council, said: “The town council very much welcomes the early work to re-design and re-open Station Road to controlled traffic in order to encourage and stimulate interest and trade in the high street and wider town centre.
“This key work, together with other ambitious plans and regeneration projects in the new Portland Park area, is seen by the town council as critical in improving the built environment, image and perception of Ashington as a town on the up.”
Residents can keep up-to-date with progress at a dedicated office for the Station Road regeneration scheme at 1 Wansbeck Square. The office will be open for queries each weekday from 10am to 11am and between 1pm and 2pm.
The market will be temporarily relocated to John Street car park for the duration of the construction period.