LOW TRAFFIC NEIGHBOURHOOD: Locations for first rollout revealed
Six-month experiments to restrict traffic and “breathe new life” into 15 neighbourhoods in Bath and North East Somerset are set to begin this year.
If signed off by cabinet bosses next week, the council will consult on the first tranche of low traffic neighbourhoods from September, draw up preliminary designs the following month and consult again from November.
Following equalities impact assessments they will be introduced using experimental traffic orders, allowing them to be tested in a “live” situation – giving six months for formal objections to be submitted.
The schemes – part of the council’s wider £2.2million liveable neighbourhoods programme – can be removed immediately if they fail but officers say they should be tested for at least three to six months.
Sustainable transport manager Nick Helps told councillors last week: “If a scheme was an absolute disaster you could on day one cancel it but I think it’s best to wait, because these things will settle down.
“If you predict chaos it doesn’t materialise, because travel behaviour changes to adapt. The benefits are just huge.”
So far the council has received 48 applications for liveable neighbourhoods, a key manifesto pledge of the Liberal Democrat administration. The programme will see vehicle restrictions, traffic calming and residents’ parking zones used to reduce the dominance of vehicles in residential areas, although people will still be able to access their homes by car.
Low traffic neighbourhoods have proved controversial elsewhere.
More than 10,000 people signed a petition objecting to the measures in the London borough of Ealing and in September more than 2,000 residents took to the streets in protest.
Councillors in Harrow removed four low traffic neighbourhoods amid concerns they were causing higher levels of congestion and pollution and delaying emergency service vehicles.
Speaking last month, Mr Helps said there was “massive support” for liveable neighbourhoods, but acknowledged concerns about the impact on disabled and older people, those with young children and families on low incomes. He said officers will “seek to mitigate any adverse effects, working with communities”, adding that said schemes could use number plate recognition rather than bollards to control traffic flow, allowing ambulances, bin collections and disabled transport vehicles to pass freely.
The applications to B&NES Council have been prioritised based on factors including their complexity, the number of households in the area, the level of deprivation and the proximity to schools or Bath’s clean air zone or an air quality management area.
The 14 wards set to be prioritised are represented by eight of the nine cabinet members (shown in bold below), with only Twerton’s Councillor Tim Ball not yet submitting an application.
The application from Lambridge, represented by former cabinet members Rob Appleyard and Joanna Wright, was deemed too complex for phase one.
These are the 15 areas recommended to be included in the first phase of the low traffic neighbourhood rollout:
- Morris Lane/Bannerdown (Bathavon North)
- New Sydney Place (Bathwick)
- Great Pulteney Street/St Johns Road area (Bathwick)
- Circus/Lower Lansdown/Marlborough Building/Royal Victoria Park/Cork Street area (Kingsmead & Lansdown)
- Temple Cloud (Mendip)
- Edgerton Road/Cotswold Road (Moorlands)
- Chelsea Road (Newbridge)
- Lyme Road/Charmouth Road (Newbridge)
- Oldfield Lane & First/Second/Third Avenues (Oldfield Park)
- Whitchurch & Queen Charlton (Publow with Whitchurch and Saltford)
- Mount Road (Southdown)
- Church St & Prior Park Rd (Widcombe & Lyncombe)
- Entry Hill (Widcombe & Lyncombe)
- Walcot Phase 1: London Road, Snow Hill, Kensington Gardens and adjacent roads (Walcot)
- Southlands (Weston)
A residents’ parking zone is proposed for Westmoreland to tackle commuter parking in the ward and neighbouring Oldfield Park, while cycle hangars are set to be rolled out so people living in flats can store their bikes conveniently and securely.
Deputy council leader Sarah Warren, the cabinet member for climate and sustainable travel, said: “Liveable neighbourhoods will breathe new life into residential areas by creating nicer spaces to socialise in, and increasing social interactions between neighbours.
“They are also an important part of our plan to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies by reducing car use for short trips, and will improve health and wellbeing across the area.
“The idea is to provide fairer access to residential neighbourhoods, creating healthier outdoor spaces for everyone to share, as well as vibrant local high streets where people want to spend time and money.
“Communities are really getting behind the idea and it’s great news we’ve received so many applications.”
Despite its members submitting applications for Keynsham South and Publow with Whitchurch, the Conservative group says the measures will lead to higher levels of congestion and pollution and will result in residents with mobility problems being disproportionately affected.
Group leader Vic Pritchard said: “Although we sympathise with the principle of low traffic neighbourhoods, we are concerned that problems that have been reported with them in other parts of the country will also emerge here.
“These include higher levels of pollution and congestion caused by displaced traffic, unfair restrictions on peoples’ freedom of movement and delays to emergency service vehicles.”
The cabinet will meet to discuss the proposals on June 23.
Words: Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter
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