The Streets for People project aims to help neighbourhoods identify opportunities for making walking, cycling and other sustainable forms of travel easier, safer and more attractive. The project is led by Newcastle City Council and funded by a grant obtained from the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition Fund.
The focus of Streets for People is the inner city suburbs to the north, east and west of the city centre – Arthurs Hill into Fenham, Ouseburn into Heaton, and Jesmond. The project is split into these three neighbourhoods and each is supported with its own identity, plans and resident group.
Streets for People is a three stage process, organised and supported by the Transport Development team at Newcastle City Council and drawing on the expertise of a wide variety of stakeholders. These include residents, local Councillors, community groups, cycling organisations, local businesses and service providers. The technical work will also be supported by the council’s engineers, planners, urban designers and the Cycling Ambition Fund Programme Board.
Stage 1 – Setting up a local “reference group”
The first task in each neighbourhood was to identify and recruit local people to be part of a “reference group”. Whilst the Council have looked to community groups, activists and Councillors to set these up, these groups are informal and open to any interested people. The role of this group is to steer engagement with local people throughout the project and help shape designs that respond to the issues raised in the “Needs Analysis”.
Stage 2 – Needs Analysis
The Council, supported by these reference groups, undertook a Needs Analysis in these three neighbourhoods. The intention behind this was to gather evidence about the movement-related issues in these areas in a useful and transparent way. This work supplemented the existing knowledge that the Council and stakeholders already had about the issues relating to cycling, walking and accessibility in these areas.
This Needs Analysis was carried out during Summer 2016 using an online tool called Commonplace. Separate consultations were open for local people to identify issues in each of these three areas. This tool allows for the collection and display of information on an interactive map and was open for anyone to express approval for the feedback and ideas posted by others. The Council also allowed people to respond using a paper form.
The three maps created by this tool became the evidence base for the reference groups and the urban designers to prioritise and develop designs to change things in each of the areas.
Stage 3 – Turning these into proposals
With the support of technical officers from the Council, reference groups have been working through issues on the neighbourhood map and developing ideas to change these issues. Following this, the groups have drawn up a shortlist of proposals to take forward.
The ideas on this shortlist are now in the process of being scrutinised by the Council and cross referenced with other important plans to make there are no conflicts. Once agreed by the Healthy Streets Board at Newcastle City Council, they will be made public for the purposes of consultation with people across the city.