'Messy' and 'unpopular' high street bollards to be axed after months of anger

·2-min read
Heavy traffic on Gosforth High Street.
Heavy traffic on Gosforth High Street.

Widely-criticised bollards that have been branded a “blight” on Gosforth High Street are set to be permanently removed.

Transport chiefs in Newcastle have confirmed plans to finally get rid of the long stretch of bollards that were installed along the length of the busy high street in 2020, cutting the road down from four lanes of traffic to two in order to give more social distancing space to pedestrians and cyclists during the pandemic.

Rather than going back to the old layout, Newcastle City Council says it will instead widen pavements to make room for new seats and planting in an effort to make the street a greener and more “people-friendly” area.

It is expected that the changes will be made early in 2023, under an initial trial period lasting up to 18 months while the council gathers feedback from locals and bids for funding to pay for a “long term enhancement to this area”.

Announcing its plans on Thursday, the council said that traffic data collected over four years had proven that taking the high street down to only two lanes had produced a “minimal impact” on journey times.

Coun Jane Byrne, the authority’s cabinet member for transport, said: “The bollards on Gosforth High Street are an issue that has understandably been raised with me many times. I believe that these proposals will make better use of the space creating a nicer place for people to visit and prioritising public transport on a key bus route.

“We simply do not believe that we should remove the bollards and return to four lanes of traffic on one of the narrowest high streets in the city, when what we actually need is better and more creative use of the space through green infrastructure, that cleans up the air and benefits everyone. The proposals we’re setting out will improve public transport services, with reliable journey times as well as better-placed bus stops.

“At the same time, they will improve the look and feel of Gosforth High Street, making it greener, pleasanter and more accessible.”

The council said it would also install ‘living roofs’ on bus stops to support wildlife, provide better bike parking facilities on the high street, and extend the bus lane at the southern end of the high street.

The bollards have attracted a wave of criticism in the two years since they first emerged, having been labelled ugly and confusing for people.

Liberal Democrat councillors called last month for an end to the  “mess and uncertainty”, claiming there had been “two years of inaction” on the high street, while Tory campaigner Doc Anand made headlines recently after dressing up as a traffic cone in his campaign against the scheme.

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