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Rural roads near craster Photo: Iain Robson

The rural roads that weave their way through the Northumberland Coast AONB and through its villages and hamlets form an important element of the landscape. They often began life as tracks between important places and were not designed to cope with the size and volume of traffic expected of them today.

Roads help to shape the character and quality of the local areas they serve. If they are managed in an inappropriate way, they can significantly detract for the landscape. We work with the Highway Authority and statutory undertakers to ensure that highways schemes and maintenance enhance rather than detract from their rural setting.

Highways Design and Public Realm Design Guide

In 2022 we revised our exiting highways guidance (2009). The revised Highways and Public Realm Design Guide can be downloaded below. The document provides guidance on how the rural road network and other public realm within the AONB should be designed and managed. The document provides guidance to anyone who is involved in the construction, maintenance, or management of on, or adjacent to, the highways that lie within the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

This may include works undertaken by highway authorities, utilities companies, landowners, environmental and voluntary groups.

Download the document here (51Mb)

Sign Clutter Audit

Modern highways signage can have a negative impact on the natural beauty of the Northumberland Coast and the character and distinctiveness of our rural settlements.

To assess how great this impact was on the Northumberland Coast AONB, in 2007, the AONB Partnership commissioned Northumberland County Council to undertake an audit of the main routes through the AONB. This audit found the following issues were prevalent:

  • groups of signs that could be incorporated into one
  • brown tourist signs that could be combined with general signs
  • groups of signs with yellow back boards
  • badly sited signs with poor visibility
  • illegal signs
  • excessively large signs
  • poor continuity
  • unused signs and posts

The audit suggested improvements that could be made at each location and prioritised these. 

AONB Partnership staff can provide advice to local people wanting to carry out a clutter audit of their own village or parish.

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