Visitors to the North Tyneside coast will find the experience safer, greener, and more accessible after ambitious walking and cycling plans received a multi-million pound boost.
North Tyneside Council will move ahead with plans for a permanent, segregated, two-way safe space between the North Shields Fish Quay and St Mary’s Lighthouse, after securing £3.5m from Active Travel England.
The scheme – known as the Seafront Sustainable Route – will make it easier for people to choose active and green ways of getting around, while better connecting communities and coastal businesses and attractions.
Speeds will be reduced to 20mph and there will be additional traffic calming measures, including raised crossings for easier access to the coast, and motorists will continue to be able to travel along the seafront between Whitley Bay and Tynemouth in both directions.
The scheme will make the seafront a safer and more pleasant place to walk and cycle, thereby increasing the number of people using sustainable forms of transport for a healthier lifestyle and helping to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality. Footpaths will be resurfaced along the length of the route, as will large sections of the highway, to enhance the experience of visiting the award-winning coastline.
It aims to build on the success of a temporary pop-up route that was in place during summer 2020, while seeking to address issues that were identified.
The council received confirmation of its successful funding bid from Active Travel England, the newly formed Government agency, led by Chris Boardman.
It clears the way for the council to draw up detailed designs before carrying out further consultation on the preferred options.
A six-week consultation exercise was carried out in October 2021 and received more than 11,000 comments from 1,500 people. The feedback is being used to help shape the proposals.
Councillor Sandra Graham, Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “We are delighted to have secured this funding after a great deal of hard work and planning, and a bid that received high praise from Active Travel England.
“The new route will be a scheme of the highest quality, it will have wide-ranging benefits for North Tyneside and will support people to access cheap, healthy, zero emission travel, while providing a boost to air quality and people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
“The coast is one of our greatest and more cherished assets and we believe this scheme will make it safer and more attractive to access our coast, while helping to ease congestion and improve the air quality. It will better connect our coastal communities and link the seafront with planned improvements in North Shields as part of the regeneration programme there.
“We are very excited about the way this scheme is taking shape and we will seek local people’s views again when the design work is complete.”
In July 2019, the council declared a climate emergency and set a target to reduce the carbon footprint of the authority and the borough by 50% by 2023. But the council has already achieved a 52% reduction and brought forward its carbon net-zero target by twenty years to 2030.
The new route will support those aims even in the construction phase by using materials with highly recycled elements and a minimal carbon impact.
Carbon offsetting measures such as planting and soft landscaping will be implemented along the route.
Construction could begin as early as September 2022 and will be carefully phased to avoid disruption during the busiest periods.