Alston Front Street redevelopment

Work to reinstate the cobbles (setts) to a 30-metre section of Front Street in Alston (opposite the Market Cross) will commence from Monday 2 August.

The news follows confirmation that local firm, Cubby Construction have been selected as the specialist paving contractor to carry out the works, following a tendering process.

The stone that will be used in the reinstatement of the cobbles (setts) will come from the nearby Alston Quarry - meaning all of the materials and works on site will be completed using locally sourced materials and contractors.

The county council has worked closely with the Alston Front Street Steering Group to progress the project; recognising the importance of the business community and residents involvement in the construction phase of the project and a sub-group of local business and community representatives was established to ensure that Alston will be promoted and celebrated as 'open for business' throughout the works.  The introduction of the successful monthly Alston Market in May has been one of the major projects of this group and is held on the last Saturday of each month.

As restrictions following the Covid pandemic continue to ease, it is vital to ensure that visitors and locals alike are aware of the project, and that the town's businesses and local economy are able to thrive throughout the works. The county council will continue to work closely with the steering group and local community to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum, and that people across the wider region are informed about the town remaining open for business during the reinstatement works.  Liaison Officers from Cubby Construction will be contacting local traders soon to discuss how the road closure may affect them and offer support and advice.

The works are expected to be completed by the end of November 2021. 

The complexity of the proposed surface, and subgrade mean that this work will take longer than a standard road reconstruction using tarmac - which only takes a few days. Various factors, including weather (particularly rain), also come into play. The laying of stone setts is a specialist skill and the stonemasons from Cubby Construction will liaise with the original team who installed the trial panels in 2020, to discuss how the stone 'worked.'

The council will also take this opportunity to deliver other minor repairs to parking areas and pavements to reduce disruption.

The work will require a full road closure with traffic needing to be diverted via the 'Blagill Loop'. Cubby Construction will be liaising closely with the council and steering group, and by working together with local businesses and residents, we will ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum and that businesses in Alston are actively promoted as remaining open to visitors throughout these exciting works.

Cumbria County Council has committed to designing and paying for a 'Phase One' scheme. This will see improvements to a section of road adjacent to the Market Cross as agreed with the Front Street Steering Group. Funding is being sought for phase two work, which incorporates the areas of Front Street below and above the Market Cross.

Alston Front Street Virtual Drop-in - Monday 7 September 2020


Residents and businesses were invited to our virtual information drop-in sessions on Monday 7 September.

CCC Officers and members of the Alston Front Street Steering Group were available to answer questions on the recently laid trial panel, the main works planned in 2021 for Phase 1 (area by the market cross) and the temporary blacktop resurfacing that will go ahead in October replacing the patchwork of old cobbles in the area of road above the market cross.


Why was the trial panel on the wrong side of the road? Wouldn't it test the stone more if vehicles going up the hill drove on it?

Stresses are similar on each side, going up or down the hill, we are confident that the trial will give us the information we need as much of this is around material performance.


Will additional yellow lines, restricting parking on Front Street be put in?

There are no plans to put in any further restrictions on the street.


Does the kerb height need to be raised to ensure water run off stays off the pavement?

The channels in the design should encourage good drainage, however the trial panel may give some insight into this over the winter months.


When will the tarmac go in at the top of the road and what area does this cover?

Blacktop will be replacing the patchwork of cobbles and blacktop at the top of the street, from outside the Co-op to the top of the existing cobbled area. We are looking at early October, this is after they crew has finished on Meat haw Hill, which is currently on track.


Bonding material didn't set as expected, why?

The low strengths of the mortars could be due to: an issue with the manufacture or storage of the mortars before use and/or mixing the materials on site - these products need to be mixed strictly to the manufacturer's instructions otherwise all the constitutes don't activate as they should which can result in poor strengths. However,strength improves over time, so the team will test the mortar throughout the life of the test panel to gain further understanding.


Who will do the work on Phase 1 (area by the Market Cross)?

The project will go out to tender and wouldlook to attract companies with a stone mason specialism.


What can we do for businesses in the road closure time for Phase 1?

With the help of the Steering Group the project team will create signs to bring people in, detailing where free parking is available and create an online campaign on the works to spark interest and encourage visits to the town.


To help oversee the project there is an established steering group made up of local businesses, residents and organisations who meet on a regular basis to provide valuable input into the Front Street redevelopment project.   

Alston Front Street Steering Group:

  • Alston Moor Business Association
  • Alston Moor National Farmers Union
  • Alston Moor Parish Council
  • Alston Moor Partnership
  • Alston Youth Club
  • Cumbria County Council
  • Eden District Council
  • Historic England
  • Save Alston Front Street group

Work is now underway by the council to deliver phase one, which will see improvements to a section of road adjacent to the Market Cross.  Funding is being sought for phase two work, which incorporates the areas of Front Street below and above the Market Cross


Spring 2021

Construction work to start to deliver Phase 1 (weather permitting)

September 2020

Virtual Drop-in held to answer questions on the recently laid trial panel, the main works planned in 2021 for Phase 1 (area by the market cross) and the temporary blacktop resurfacing that will go ahead in October replacing the patchwork of old cobbles in the area of road above the market cross.

July 2020

The 2m by 6m trial panel by the Market Cross is completed, it is made of local Alston stone laid in two laying options, to test their strength and durability.  Work was carried out in early July, it took 3 weeks to create the trial panel and a further 4 weeks were needed to allow the specialist mortar time to harden, roughly as expected.

The county council will now carry out visual monitoring and material testing of the finished surface as well as on the foundation itself. The testing will help to assess how the trial panel performs.

Summer 2020

Construction work to start to deliver Phase 1 - Project is delayed as team were unable to construct the trial panel in the spring.

Spring 2020

Work on the trial panel delayed due to Covid-19.  A number of Cumbria County Council's project teams and highways staff were redeployed to assist with the Council's support for Cumbrian communities.

25 January 2020

Drop-in event held on Saturday 25 January at Alston Town Hall for the community to learn more about the project and give their views on where crossing points should be within the overall design and also on the suggested diversion routes that could be used when phase one of the works starts later in the year.

Summer 2019

When considering the requirements together with the additional information gathered through ground investigation works and local stone testing it was decided that Cumbria County Council's in-house team is best placed to lead the design process for phase one. The project team will be supported by the specific technical capabilities and experience of an external pavement expert who has been supporting the project in an advisory capacity since early 2019.

May/June 2019

Cumbria County Council allocates funding for Phase 1 of the project. This will see improvements to a section of road adjacent to the Market Cross.

April/May 2019

Investigation work into the use of local stone for use in the carriageway and into the foundation of the road.

February/March 2019

Work to upgrade the steps around the Market Cross and the renewal and refurbishment of street light equipment on Front Street (both independent of this scheme but Cumbria County Council led schemes). 

19 January 2019

Drop-in event held to advise on the progress of the Front Street project and give community chance to ask questions. 

October 2018

Maintenance programmed works commenced. Cobbles lifted and stored, replaced with asphalt. 

Drop-in events held on 3 May and 27 June 2018

Consultation on public realm options started. 

Autumn 2017

Front Street steering group created to develop designs and investigate the possibility of external funding for a longer term solution.

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 2021 (weather permitting).

Repairs to the Market Cross

Summary: Approximately 40 of the sandstone steps leading to the market cross have been re-bedded and re-pointed with Lime Mortar. The stones when lifted were cleaned and treated with fungicide before resetting. The Market Cross is not part of the adopted highway but is a building owned by Cumbria County Council and repairs were carried out by a local specialist stonework contractor for the County Council. The work carried out was classed as maintenance and repairs and therefore didn't require listed building consent.

Investment/cost: Approximately £ 12k.

Timescale: Work started on Monday 4 March 2019 and is expected to be completed in approximately 3 weeks (weather permitting).

Front Street lighting improvements

Summary: Cumbria County Council is currently investing in the renewal and refurbishment of street lighting equipment across the county and Front Street in Alston was selected to be part of this innovative scheme. 

This saw the replacement of existing wall and column mounted lanterns on Front Street with new 'gas mantle style' heritage LED lanterns, which is more in-keeping with the historic nature of this important town.  

The new lighting has a much warmer colour in appearance and it emits less light pollution so is particularly suitable, and popular, in areas with 'dark skies' like Alston.  As part of this investment programme the wall brackets and columns were also freshly painted.  In addition to replacing the lanterns, we also installed several new lighting columns between existing locations.  We are pleased to confirm that these are original cast iron columns which have been carefully restored and refurbished, ensuring that they will complement the existing columns in the town. 

Investment/Cost: 35K

Timescale: Work started on Monday 18 February 2019 and is now completed.

Front Street Alston - layout plan (PDF 110KB)

While we continue to develop a deliverable long term scheme for Alston and try to secure funding, essential highway maintenance work has been necessary on Front Street. The section of road which deteriorated the most, has been resurfaced in asphalt. We will continue to monitor the condition of the highway and it may be necessary to undertake some repair work to some remaining areas of Front Street to ensure the road is safe for users. Any removed cobbles are being stored so that, if suitable, they can be reused elsewhere in Alston.

5 October 2020

Work to resurface the top of the road will start on Monday 5 October, for five days.

The works will involve the removal of a section of unstable cobbles and blacktop reinstatements, from the Co-op to the Top CafĂ©.   This section will then be temporarily resurfaced to make the road safe until future works to reinstate the cobbles have been developed and funding confirmed.

The first two days will include digging out the damaged cobbles and old blacktop reinstatements, changing iron work, the remaining three days will focus on resurfacing and re-lining, finishing on Friday 9 October, weather dependant.

All removed cobbles will be stored so that they could be used in the redevelopment of Front Street for off-road projects in and the around town centre.


The signed diversion route is the same as the previous one during the earlier phase of the works.  The road closure of Front Street will extend from the junction with Church Road to the junction with the B6277 road.

11 June 2019

The current works on Front Street will take a little longer than expected. This is due to the number of service cables running under the road surface, the need to protect these and to ensure the works are completed safely. We expect the works to be completed by Friday 14 June.

5 June 2019

Our highways team continue to monitor the condition of Front Street and recent inspections have identified that in order to keep the condition of the road safe, some urgent temporary repairs will need to be carried out.

Temporary repairs will take place on Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 June on two sections of Front Street; adjacent to Market Cross and just up from the Co-op the road above the Market Cross (see pics). The repairs will be carried out using hand patching rather than heavy plant machinery. Traffic management will be used for the duration of the work and the road will remain open at all times.

Whilst this work is taking place, two trial holes will be excavated to allow some testing of the road foundation.

Consultation Results Map (PDF 2MB)

Should the street layout change to accommodate pedestrians?

Yes, but this is difficult in the narrow street environment and with the amount and number of HGV drivers. 

Pedestrians should be made a priority in the area from the Church to the Co-op and the area from the Co-op to the Alston Moor Partnership shop. 

Could the quantity of parking spaces reduce? 

Car parking is important for visitors and businesses, so it wouldn't be beneficial to reduce parking spaces. 

Residents who attended the drop-in said they didn't want to lose parking numbers however some people felt that there could be reduced parking in the area from the Church to the Co-op to allow more space for pedestrians. 

Better delineation and signage to free parking elsewhere was also asked for. 

Where are the areas that we should prioritise spending? 

Residents expressed spending should be prioritised from the Church to the Co-op and from the Co-op to the Alston Moor Partnership shop. 

Additional comments 

Better signage needed. Better use of green space at the bottom of Front Street needed. Safety of vehicles and pedestrians should be a priority. The cobbles should be retained in some form as they are imperative to Alston's heritage and the tourist trade.