Alston Front Street redevelopment

Improvement plans for Alston Front Street are progressing steadily. 

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.

Work is also now progressing to secure a design consultant that will be appointed by mid - late August. While this has taken longer than expected it has been agreed that it is essential to secure the very best company for the job and sometimes this can take time. 

The Front Street project team will continue to work with the local community regarding the road surface on Front Street and how its character can be maintained. 

As a result of previous discussions earlier this year local people asked that the council look to focus some immediate efforts into delivering a 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. 

In line with this commitment the council has now identified suitable natural stone setts sourced from a local quarry, which have undergone a series of essential technical safety tests to ensure they are safe to use on a main road/carriageway. This stone has now passed these tests satisfactorily which means it can now be considered as a suitable replacement road surface material. 

The next stage of this project is to confirm appointment of the design consultant and the steering group will work with them on a  design, including details of the materials, as recommended by the design consultant. Any design and materials will need to be within the funds now allocated by the council. These recommendations will be subject to further consultation and engagement later this year.

Delivery of 'phase one' is likely to be carried out from spring 2020 (weather permitting), and subject to weather is likely to be finished by late Autumn 2020.

As part of the Council's ongoing commitment to Alston this year 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.  

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. 

Funding is being sought for phase two work, which incorporates the area of Front Street below and above the Market Cross. 

Finally to help keep local people and tourists informed there is now a public information board located on the gable end of the Co-op on Front Street and an information board in the Local Link, in the Town Hall.

31 May 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. 

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.

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 try to secure the funds required to progress this exciting scheme.

Timeline:

Summer 2019

Potato Market works: deep clean of the area.

May and 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 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). 

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 2020 (weather permitting).

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)

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.