Image demonstrating Detailed study of road network underway

Detailed study of road network underway

An online study to ensure the county’s roads are properly classified gets underway this week.

Northumberland County Council has classified all its roads, footpaths and cycleways into different categories for many years - using terms such as major roads, distributor roads and local access roads. Since 2008 these ‘hierarchies’ have been in place without change, other than minor tweaks to allow for new developments and changes to the road network.  

Now, working alongside a revised national Code of Practice, the council is to review and refresh these hierarchies.

The Code of Practice recommends that “the hierarchy should take into account current and expected use, resilience, and local economic and social factors such as industry, schools, hospitals and similar, as well as the desirability of continuity and of a consistent approach for walking and cycling.”

As part of the review the descriptions within the hierarchy for our local roads will be amended and will include nine categories, including the major road networks, our resilient road network, distributor roads, link roads and local access roads.  Its aim is to make it easier for people to understand why a certain road has a certain category within the hierarchy.

The ultimate aim is to have the most appropriate and up-to-date classification of all the county’s roads, allowing for prioritisation of inspection and maintenance, including in times of bad weather such as the recent ‘Beast from the East’.

The council has already assessed each section of road against the new descriptions and allocated a potential classification category to each.  The public can also give their views on these classifications.


Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Local Services, said: “With over 3,000 miles of road to maintain, having an up-to-date and detailed knowledge of our network is vital.

“This new hierarchy will provide a better and more consistent framework for our roads network, which is critical when it comes to maintenance, diversions and future development plans.

“While officers have already recommended classification categories for each of our roads we value the public’s opinion and knowledge of their local road network.

“If there is a section of road that people think should have a different categorisation we’d ask them to let us know why so that we can reconsider if necessary.”

Once completed in September 2018, the Northumberland road hierarchy, showing the road category for all the roads in the county will be published on the council’s website and adopted for future use by the County Council as the Local Highway Authority.

To take part in the study click here.
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