Alston Front Street redevelopment

Thank you to everyone who took the time to come along to our drop-in information session on Saturday 25 January. We are currently collating all of your comments which will feed into the Front Street design and be reported on this webpage.

We're sorry that there is some confusion over the term 'crossing points' which we asked for your feedback on. Please be assured, by crossing points we don't mean zebra crossings or pelican crossings.  The crossing points within the design for Front Street would only differ from the rest of the road by having a smoother finish to the cobbles/setts to aid pedestrians crossing, including wheelchair users and push chairs, they will remain informal places in the road where people cross.  These crossing points will also be subject to a Road Safety Notice.

We will be holding a further Drop-in in Spring to display the plans for Front Street.  There will be a detailed design for Phase 1 of the project (area by the Market Cross), which will be delivered in Summer 2020 and an outline design for the rest of the road, which will be used to help secure funding. 

A 2m by 6m trial panel will be installed by the Market Cross and will be made of local Alston stone laid in two laying options, to test their strength, skid resistance and durability. Work is expected to start in March and will take a minimum of six weeks to complete (depending on weather conditions and temperatures). The work will be completed under traffic lights signals to keep traffic flowing through the town.

Laying the setts is expected to take three weeks. It is vital the specialist mortar has time to harden, so on completion the site will remain under traffic lights for a further period of between three to four weeks, depending on air temperature to allow the materials to cure.

Following this, the county council will 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.

The county council's highway team continue to monitor the condition of Front Street in order to keep the condition of the road safe. Any necessary repairs will be planned to minimise disruption.

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


Summer 2020

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

Spring 2020

2m by 6m trial panel of setts installed by the Market Cross, made up of local Alston stone laid in two laying options, to test their strength, skid resistance and durability.                           

Further information session to be held detailing the next steps for the project.

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 Summer 2020 (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.

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.