March has been a key month for activity for Alston’s Front Street with Cumbria County Council carrying out a number of improvements. This includes the installation of new heritage-style gas mantle LED lanterns as well as work to repair the Market Cross steps.
Starting next week (from Monday 11 March), council staff will be undertaking some important site investigations to check the foundations on Front Street. This work is key to establishing how much work would need to be done under the road for future repairs and will hopefully pave the way for the use of new natural stone setts to replace the old and worn setts (referred to locally as cobbles). This investigation work is non-intrusive and will not involve the removing of any additional setts.
Cllr Claire Driver, Cumbria County Councillor for Alston and East Fellside, said: “I’m delighted to see our investment plans for Alston coming into play. The new heritage street lights look very fitting, and I can’t wait to see the repairs to the Market Cross when complete. Obviously we still have a lot of work to do and we wanted to make sure that the residents and businesses were aware of next week’s site investigations. There will be council staff in high-vis jackets on site and I cannot stress strongly enough that this work is essential and doesn’t include the removal of any other setts. This work will then help inform the next steps for Alston Front Street.”
The council also held an additional public drop-in session on January which was extremely well attended and at that meeting many residents and businesses asked if it would be possible to have natural stone setts as a surface for the road and parking areas. This option is now being explored. Cumbria County Council has made a commitment to reinstating the setts so long as it is safe and technically possible to do so, as the council recognises that they are a key part of Alston’s unique historical identity.