Alston Front Street redevelopment

We have been working with the community for some time regarding the potential redevelopment of Front Street and to date we have held two public drop in sessions. The County Council is committed to reinstating cobbles where it is technically possible and working with the community to find a long term solution, sympathetic to the historic nature of Alston Town Centre. 

Plans are being developed following community feedback and we will ensure that there are even more opportunities for the community to get involved as any potential future scheme is developed. 

Some work has been done to estimate the likely cost of an outline scheme and similar schemes in other parts of the country have cost between £ 1-2 million pounds. 

The development of a scheme like this will take time. It is a significant undertaking to achieve a deliverable design whilst meeting the aspirations of residents and businesses, and then securing the necessary funding needed and it will not happen quickly. 

We will continue to work closely with the community to inform and engage during the design process. Once finalised, these plans will be key to helping us secure the funding needed to deliver a scheme sympathetic to the historic nature of Alston. 

The public drop-ins were held to give us an understanding of what the community wanted for their town centre and where they felt money should be prioritised.

7 May 2019

Natural Stone and Foundation Testing

In recent weeks the Council have been working to identify whether setts (locally referred to as cobbles) can continue to be used in the carriageway. This technical work is now complete and subject to securing sufficient funding the Council is comfortable that locally sourced natural stone setts could be incorporated back into the carriageway subject to any final design and costs.   

The Council still needs to take core samples from the road to examine the material below (the foundations).  This work is absolutely vital for understanding the road structure.  Some testing was undertaken in March but due to the unexpected rupture of a water pipe work was stopped and this work has now been rescheduled. During this work the Council will minimise the numbers of setts that are affected.   

Core samples, wherever possible, will be taken from parts of the road that is currently tarmac.  Where this is not possible it will be necessary to remove a small number of setts. Where setts are removed, if the surface allows, our contractor will try to reinstate them after the sample is taken. 

This work is programmed for Thursday 9 May.  The work will be completed in one day with minimal disruption to the public. The contractor will control traffic with a manual Stop/Go sign whilst they carry out this essential work. 

21 March 2019

Front Street Investigations update

Following the survey carried out on Monday 11 March, twelve areas on Front Street have been identified for further investigation. This will see core samples taken from the road to examine the material below. This work is absolutely vital for understanding the road structure. 

Cumbria County Council will minimise the numbers of setts (locally referred to as cobbles) that are affected by this work.  Core samples, wherever possible, will be taken from parts of the road that is currently tarmac. The area would need to be close enough to one of the twelve identified areas for this to be possible. Where this is not possible it will be necessary to remove a small number of setts. Where setts are removed, if the surface allows, our contractor will try to reinstate them after the sample is taken.

This work is programmed for the week commencing 25 March.  The work will be completed in one day with minimal disruption to the public. The contractor will control traffic with a manual Stop/Go sign whilst they carry out this essential work.

8 March 2019

County Council staff are 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.

We are committed to do all that we can for Alston and we have some exciting, as well as some essential, work being done soon.

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.

Development of the Potato Market

Summary: Cumbria County Council will now look to tidy up the area by cleaning the stonework and seating area.  The Council is also keen to work with a local group that may like to develop a planting scheme in the area. 

Timescale: Works are due to start Summer 2019


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)

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.

Work is now underway by the council to try to secure the funds required to progress this exciting scheme.

Timeline:

Autumn 2017

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

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

Consultation on public realm options started. 

October 2018 

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

19 January 2019

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

February 2019 to 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). 

April/May 2019

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

Summer 2019

Potato Market works: deep clean of the area.