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NORTHUMBERLAND LINE: Blyth footbridge approved

NORTHUMBERLAND LINE: Blyth footbridge approved

Image: LDRS

Work on the planned Northumberland Line has taken another step forward after development chiefs approved a new bridge at Blyth.

Families at Chase Meadows can currently use a level crossing to cross the existing railway tracks to access fields and footpaths on the other side.

But with traffic expected to surge once the route regains its capacity for passenger services, bosses felt a safer option would be needed to maintain access to the green space, despite concerns from some neighbours the new structure will become a magnet for ‘vandalism, loitering and littering’.

“I can’t vote for this – this is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut,” said Liberal Democrat county councillor Jeff Reid.

“This whole thing has not been thought through properly.

“I realise that as a planning authority it’s not up to us to tell people what to apply for, but I think it’s nuts.”

Cllr Reid was speaking at this week’s (Tuesday, June 9) meeting of Northumberland County Council’s Strategic Planning Committee, the first time it has been held in person, rather than via videolink, for more than a year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to plans, the new bridge will be ‘close’ to the current level crossing and will preserve the existing rights of way ‘from the housing estates to the east, to the open countryside west of the railway line’.

Several families living nearby however have questioned whether the scheme represents value for money, given, they claim, the relatively small number of people who use the route.

One objector told the meeting the wider Northumberland Line project would be the ‘best thing that’s happened to Blyth’, but opposed the crossing as he believed it would increase problem drinking and anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Barry Flux said he had ‘a lot of sympathy’ for neighbours of the scheme, but would be backing it anyway.

He added: “You wouldn’t have expected [the bridge] when you moved there, but I worry that if we turn it down we would have to consider what comes next.

“There could be delays to the whole [Northumberland Line] scheme [if we get into] the elephant trap which is rights of way.”

Councillors voted 12-2 to approve the application, with final details on tree planting and screening to be agreed later.

Words: James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporter

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