Public urged to have their say on Northumberland Line Ashington underpass plans

By James Harrison

The public will be able to have their say on controversial plans for an underpass in Ashington at an open meeting.

Proposals have been put forward by Northumberland County Council (NCC) to replace the existing Hospital Level Crossing as part of the wider Northumberland Line rail project.

And it has prompted bosses at Ashington Town Council (ATC) to step in to hold the session to ensure they can hear concerns families in the town have raised about the cross-track link.

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“We want people to come along, so they can have their opinions heard,” said Caroline Ball, a Labour member of both the county council and the town council.

“The town council is one of the organisations which can log comments on an application, so it's important for the town council to know the views of residents.

“It's not going to be a slanging match, it's so that we know the people have been listened to and we can also clarify any questions about the plans.”

Cllr Ball and other members of ATC are due to be at Ashington Masonic Hall, in John Street, on Tuesday, October 12, from 7pm, to take questions and listen to views.

If approved, the underpass plans would replace the existing level crossing between Darnley Road, on the eastern side of the railway tracks, and Roseneath Court, to the west.

Once completed, the Northumberland Line is expected to return passenger services to what was previously known as the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne Line for the first time since the 1960s.

But the prospect of increased traffic on the link has prompted recommendations that several crossing points be updated before commuter trains begin running once more.

However, while plans for the revived rail link have been widely welcomed, fears about groups gatherings at the underpass have prompted fears it could drive families away from the area and were described as “soul destroying” by one nearby homeowner.

Cllr Ball added: “We want people to come along, so they can have their opinions heard.

“We're finding, there's a number of residents struggling to log on [to the council’s planning website], so we will also be able to point them in the right direction of what to do and how to do it.

“Until it goes to the planning committee, it's not a done deal - this is about the public being listened to and knowing they have been heard.”

Further details of the plans can be found in the planning section of Northumberland County Council’s website using the reference number 21/03780.

Any comments on the scheme can be submitted through the website.

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