Improvement plans for Alston Front Street have taken another step forward with an announcement of funding from Cumbria County Council that it will prioritise, and pay for, a ‘Phase One‘ scheme. This will see improvements to a section of road adjacent to the Market Cross.
The Front Street project team have been working with the local community over the last year regarding the road surface on Front Street and how its character can be maintained. As a result of these discussions, local people asked that the council look to focus some immediate efforts into delivering phase one. They also asked the council to investigate the possibility of reinstating natural stone setts, rather than asphalt, so long as it was safe, technically and financially possible, as any final road surface would need to meet the high safety requirements of an A road.
The council has identified suitable natural stone setts sourced from a local quarry, which have undergone a series of essential technical safety tests and have been approved for their suitability for use on a carriageway. Design work is ongoing and any final design will need to be within the funds now allocated by the council and will be subject to further consultation. Delivery of ‘phase one’ is likely to be carried out from spring 2020 (weather permitting).
As part of the council’s ongoing commitment to Alston, in recent months the council have also funded and carried out improvements to the Market Cross, including the removal and resetting of its historic steps, and the installation of new heritage style street lighting in the town.
Claire Driver, County Councillor for Alston and Fellside, commenting on this announcement said: “I am delighted that as a direct result of working closely with the community we have been able to agree a way forward that will deliver some key improvements to the town centre and help protect the historic identity of our town.
“The funding that the council has now committed will pay for essential improvements that will make a huge difference to the look and feel of the town centre. Over recent years the old road surface had deteriorated and become unsafe, which resulted in some of the towns old cobbles being removed and replaced with asphalt. This is very unsightly for residents and it is also and not the image we want to promote to visitors. So it is great news that we now have an agreed way forward.”
Highways teams continue to monitor the condition of the Front Street and recent inspections have identified that in order to keep the condition of the road safe until phase one begins, urgent temporary repairs will need to be carried out over the coming months. Any repairs will be planned to minimise disruption during the peak tourist season.
To help oversee the project there is an established steering group made up of local businesses, residents and organisations who are meeting on a regular basis to provide valuable input into the Front Street redevelopment project. A full list of who attends this meeting is available on the council’s website cumbria.gov.uk/alstonfrontstreet
Phase two work incorporates the area of Front Street above the Market Cross and will not commence until phase one is completed.