Warrington residents are being invited to share their views on a number of schemes aimed at reducing town centre traffic and encouraging more people to walk and cycle.
Earlier this year, the council made a number of temporary changes to the road layout in the town centre as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. These schemes – designed to remove through traffic and increase active travel – were funded through the government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund [EATF], and support the council’s fourth Local Transport Plan (LTP4).
After monitoring the effects of the schemes over the last few months, the council has put forward proposals to make a number of these changes permanent. The schemes which are proposed to be retained have been seen to be successful at reducing through traffic and promoting active travel within the town centre.
They have also improved access into and out of the town for bus services, which is important to encourage more journeys to be made to and from the town centre by bus.
The proposed permanent changes are:
• Removing the restriction near the bus interchange on Winwick Street and instead, installing a bus gate along Scotland Road between the junctions with Cockhedge Way and the Cockhedge Retail Park car park. The bus gate would allow access for buses, taxis and cyclists in both directions, but prohibit access for other vehicles.
• Reversal of the one way system on Bold Street, with cycle flow permitted in the opposite direction.
• No vehicle access (except for cyclists) from Barbauld Street onto Wilson Patten Street.
• Left turn not permitted (except for cyclists) from Winmarleigh Street to Sankey Street.
• Restrictions on Academy Way to remove westbound through traffic, except cycles, and the creation of a loading bay on Moulders Lane.
The schemes would be funded using a second tranche of the Active Travel Fund, recently awarded by the government, and meet the objectives of both Warrington’s LTP4 and the government’s EATF guidance.
The council is now launching a consultation – which runs from Thursday 26 November until Thursday 24 December – to give people the opportunity to have their say on the proposals.
Cllr Hans Mundry, Cabinet Member for highways, transportation and public realm, said: “Our Local Transport Plan sets out our commitment to increase active travel and reduce congestion in Warrington. These temporary changes have focused on ‘through routes’ which were routinely used by motorists to cut through the town centre.
“This increase in traffic volumes and speed, as well the environmental impacts of noise and vehicle emissions, has made our town centre streets much less attractive for people who live and work here and mean they are not user friendly for pedestrians, cyclists and those with disabilities.
“We believe that making these measures permanent will allow them to be more readily understood by drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. They will reduce the volume of through traffic, create a more attractive environment for all and support our long term aims to promote greater levels of walking and cycling.
“The intention is not to restrict access to the town centre for those people who live, work or visit. These proposals, while removing unnecessary through traffic, would retain vehicular access into the town centre and ensure traffic will be able to circulate within the heart of our town.
“We know a range of people – from residents and businesses, to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians – will have views on these proposals. Please make sure you get involved in the consultation and have your say. All views will be taken on board.”
In the longer term, the council aims to use these measures as the first step towards a more comprehensive environmental enhancement scheme for the town centre, similar to the improvements seen in other towns and cities, such as Frodsham Street in Chester or Fishergate in Preston.
You can get involved in the consultation, until Thursday 24 December, in the following ways:
• If you have general comments you would like to make, or would like further information on the proposals, please email firstname.lastname@example.org – the council will be collating the feedback and documenting the various themes of people’s responses, both positive and negative
• If you want to formally support or object to the legal orders out for consultation, you should do so via the Traffic Regulation Orders webpage warrington.gov.uk/permanent-traffic-regulation-orders
• You can also request a phone call with a council officer by emailing email@example.com, providing your contact details and the nature of your enquiry