Back in 2014, Durham County Council revealed plans to relocate the bus station on North Road in Durham, taking out the roundabout, demolishing Hopper House and building a new bus station and a signalised T-junction in their place. After the main consultation in May 2014 a Durham City Cycle Forum meeting was held specifically to talk about the issues raised by the proposals. Then everything went quiet. Now, in the autumn of 2016, revised plans were put to public consultation at a two-day event in North Road Methodist Church, between the current site of the bus station and the proposed new site.
The Trust Pathways group has submitted a response to the consultation. In essence we ask that the Council assess the quality of the routes that people on bikes will have to take through the new junction, and modify their plans in the light of what they find. Key destinations in the area include North Road’s shops, the town centre and the railway station. Connections to the adjoining residential areas, the routes to the university, and the bridges across the Wear need to be enhanced.
How should this assessment be done? Fortunately a robust methodology has been devised in conjunction with the Active Travel (Wales) Act, and Durham County Council officers are already familiar with applying it: they have used it to audit cycle routes in Chester-le-Street and other major towns in the county. We suggest that the Council should:
- audit the proposed routes for cycling, including on-road sections, not just dedicated provision
- modify the plans to improve the quality of the cycling environment
- present the assessments and revised plans to the Durham City Cycle Forum for discussion
- after further refinement of the designs, proceed to a planning application
We are concerned that the road space allocated to the new bus station will prevent the Council from installing adequate cycle infrastructure through this key area of the city, denying people the benefits of choosing cycling in the future. This is particularly a risk as the Council has not published its ideas for the future shape of the cycle network following the cycle route audits carried out in the city.