Northumberland County Council has visionary plans to make Cramlington the first green town in the UK.
The scheme will see a range of improvements for the town including its busy centre. The council will invest an initial £50K, subject to full local authority approval.
A range of master plan design options will follow, with a particular focus on development opportunities around the Manor Walks shopping complex.
Cllr Paul Devadoss Ezhilchelvan told Asian Standard: “Cramlington was originally built with cycle paths in mind and with the aim of providing lots of greenery long before green issues came to the fore. Our first aim is to upgrade all the cycle paths and connect them to nearby roads so people can cycle all the way from home to the shops and back without any problem. It’s all about linking up the network in the best way possible.
“Again, when the town emerged all those years ago, we had a pleasant green space known as Alexandra Park built on a disused mine. It’s now been recognised as a high-quality green space by the Green Flag Award scheme. Apart from improving everything money has been spent on a wonderful children’s playpark and we want to turn into a health zone so people could cycle to the park for example, enjoy healthy activities and cycle or walk back home again.
“We also feel exercise parks for dogs are very important these days, so we’ll be creating a new one and more could follow later.
“There are many people who arrived here at the towns birth in the 1970’s, some getting older and with physical problems. We’ve noticed a rise in the numbers of mobility scooters here, so we’ll be ensuring there are plenty of accessible areas coming down from kerbs, so again, individuals can move around freely and reach all the bus stops here comfortably.”
The County Council and partners including the town council feel more could be made of land to the south of the centre and is set to commission architects to revisit some ideas to “re-imagine” the area, with suggestions including environmental improvements, a performance area or a market square.
Town Clerk Bob Baker added: “Cramlington is the second largest town in Northumberland in terms of population but by far the largest contributor to the County Council’s finances in respect of the level of council tax and business rates it generates. “We hope the funding for feasibility studies will lead to substantial investment in the town centre and the wider public realm which we believe has been underfunded for too long in comparison to other Northumberland towns.”
Cramlington Village County Councillor Mark Swinburn, speaking on behalf of the Cramlington members, added: “Our town has so much to offer both residents and visitors but we’re always striving to see how things could be improved further.
“Having a fresh perspective on what could be achieved here and wider in the town will help us develop a blue-print for the long-term prosperity and environment of Cramlington.”