A proposed "garden village" housing development in rural Northumberland is the first in the UK to commit to a Dutch-style 250-metre grid, says the consultant working on the scheme.
Dissington Garden Village is a £70m project by developer Lugano Property Group. It failed to be included as one of the fourteen garden villages announced by the government at the beginning of January, but the scheme has the support of Northumberland County Council and planning permission is still being sought.
The development envisages the creation of 2000 homes, as well as shops, offices, workshops and upscale hotels and restaurants. Dissington is six miles from the edge of Newcastle upon Tyne, and borders Darras Hall, an upscale housing estate favoured by Newcastle United footballers and which itself was an early 1900s "garden village".
Dissington Estate sits astride National Cycle Network Route 10, close to Stamfordham, which is venue for the annual Beaumont Trophy cycle race, and a key village on the Virgin Money Cyclone weekend of cycle rides.
The Dissington Garden Village's Dutch-style cycleway grid was developed by Tom Bailey of Almere Consulting.
“This has been an amazing project for me," said Bailey, the former NE network manager for Sustrans. "The commitment to cycling infrastructure from the development is unparalleled. This is the first housing development in the UK to commit to a comprehensive Dutch style 250-metre grid – made of paths, tracks and cycle streets. We’ll show that we can do this properly in the UK by building something that actually works for cycling.”
He added that he has also had to "think about cycling as a business, a tourism generator and as a sport."
Local cycling club Tyneside Vagabonds has asked Dissington Estate if the Garden Village can help fund a closed-road cycling circuit. British Cycling has been looking to support such a circuit in the North East for some time. Limestone lane, which runs through the proposed village, is important to the club, having long being used as an informal “sprint finish” on club rides.
Those seeking to lobby the Estate and the local planning authority in favour of funding for cycling facilities have until 2nd February.
Dissington is already committed to delivering bike-friendly public transport connecting to the Tyne & Wear Metro at Callerton Park. The light-rail Metro trialled carriage of cycles last year. The project is also supporting cycle route upgrades between the proposed village and Newcastle Airport.
“At the moment the A1 and the A696 are real barriers to people riding out from Newcastle, and public transport beyond the end of the Metro isn’t great," said Bailey. "Supporting cycling as a sport and leisure activity goes hand in hand with making sure that people get genuine options to get out to the local anes without bringing the car. If a circuit is delivered with financial backing from development it’s got to be accessible to young riders."
Cycling is also seen as key to business start-ups in the new village and, ultimately, job creation. Graham Vickers of CyclePaD, a Northumberland-focussed cycle tourism consulantacy, said: “Northumberland is one of the country’s best kept secrets as a cycling destination, and we are seeing year on year growth in this market."
Dissington Estate is keen to attract tourism, bike-rental and cycle cafe businesses to the proposed development. The first phase of the project could start in 2018.