Wiltshire Council alters pedestrianisation plans after concerns

WILTSHIRE Council has amended its plans to pedestrianise Salisbury city centre, following public concerns and business feedback.

When the scheme was first announced by the Journal at the start of July, the centre of the city was set to be cut off to all through-traffic from September, only allowing access to buses and taxis, as well as access for residents, deliveries, and to car parks.

However the ‘new’ plans released today propose fewer areas of the city that will be blocked off to traffic.

It will now also be progressed in two phases. In phase one, to be implemented in autumn 2020, some of the city centre’s streets will be closed to through traffic and access to Central Car Park will be altered. In spring and summer of 2021, depending on the outcome of and feedback from phase one, phase two will be implemented.

This would see a restriction on Mill Road, New Street and Crane Street to stop non-essential access to Churchfields industrial estate, improving the pedestrian link between the city centre and the cathedral; and the closure of the Fisherton Street access to Central Car Park, reducing traffic along Fisherton Street.

These two sections will be closely monitored throughout phase one to measure their usage and the flow of traffic.

The council says since the project was first announced, it has received a “significant amount” of feedback from residents, businesses, and interest groups in the city, and also several comments on various aspects of the scheme.

Concerns mainly focus on traffic on the A36, access and parking for disabled people, access for deliveries and businesses, and the numbers of visitors and shoppers in the city.

The council say the new designs will help to allay several of these concerns and others; for example: 

  • Regarding the A36, Highways England, which operates the A36, says it is “supportive” of the scheme and is “working closely” with the council. Flows on the A36 are currently down on their pre-COVID levels, particularly in the peak morning and evening periods. The council will also make use of advanced monitoring technology to monitor traffic flows and movements on the A36 in real-time. It will have an agreed contingency plan to make changes to the scheme if required, based on this monitoring.
  • Some vehicles will be able to drive through the bus gates, including: buses; tourist coaches; taxis; Blue Badge holders; city centre residents, though they will not be able to drive through the city centre; and vehicles that are loading and unloading, although vehicles over 7.5t will be excluded between 10am and 4pm. Existing taxi rank and loading bay provision will not be reduced.
  • In terms of parking, on-street Blue Badge parking will remain as it is, as will on-street resident parking and access to private off-street parking. Existing public off-street car parks will remain open, but access may be restricted to particular routes/entry points. Pay and display on-street parking in the city centre will be removed and users will be directed to off-street car parks.
  • It is hoped that the scheme will increase the number of shoppers and visitors in the city, as has been the case with similar schemes, both in the UK and abroad, which have benefited businesses. 

The designs are now open for comments from the public, businesses and local groups. All submissions will be taken into account, the council says, and where appropriate the designs will be amended ahead of the start of the scheme in the autumn.

Councillor Bridget Wayman, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “The initial announcement about this ambitious project generated significant positive feedback from residents, businesses, and interest groups in the city. We also received several comments on various aspects of the scheme. We have listened to this feedback, and our officers have adapted the plans to maintain access for permitted vehicles and groups that need to use vehicles to access the city centre, including Blue Badge holders. We have also taken a two-phase approach so we can monitor Crane Street and Fisherton Street before making any changes in these two locations.

“We hope people will be excited and enthused by these plans, and we welcome more feedback on the scheme through the official survey, which people can answer online. Our teams will then use this feedback to help shape the implementation of the scheme.

“Once this feedback exercise has closed and work starts on the scheme in the autumn, people will once again have the opportunity to comment throughout the 18 months of the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order.

“This exciting project will help to transform the city of Salisbury, making it a more attractive place to visit, shop and work; improving air quality; and prioritising pedestrians and cyclists over motorised vehicles.”

Salisbury Journal:

Cllr Jeremy Nettle, leader of Salisbury City Council, said: “I am sure I speak for a number of residents who will be very interested in participating in the People Friendly Salisbury consultation.

“We wait to learn what residents and the business community have to contribute, to what can only be described as a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to potentially reduce traffic, improve air quality and consider whether the city should permanently bring People Friendly Streets to Salisbury, through using the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order. While also understanding the impact this may have on the capacity of our A36 Ring Road.”

Paddy Bradley, Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership CEO, said: “The improvement works for Salisbury represent a continued commitment to local businesses, the visitor economy as well as residents of this great city. Putting pedestrians and cyclists first, the project will undoubtedly benefit Salisbury to continue to be one of the best places to live, work or visit in the UK.

Dean Speer, Vice Chair of Salisbury BID and Partner of Myddelton & Major, said: “As the organisation representing city centre businesses, the BID’s role is to act as the conduit between businesses and Wiltshire Council. We are listening to the challenges and concerns from businesses and feeding them back to Wiltshire Council, ensuring they are heard and considered.

“This scheme could be hugely beneficial for Salisbury, and we want the scheme to be successful for all types of businesses. But business feedback is crucial for the project’s success and therefore we’re urging businesses to complete the survey.”

The survey is open until 3pm on Thursday, August 13. Take the survey and read the FAQs at wiltshire.gov.uk/salisbury-people-friendly-streets.

For more information, go to salisburyjournal.co.uk.

Salisbury Journal | News