Tuesday, 01 December 2020

Study shows Henley traffic will only get worse

ABOUT 120 more cars would pass through Henley during peak hours if 450 new homes were built in the town, according to a study

ABOUT 120 more cars would pass through Henley during peak hours if 450 new homes were built in the town, according to a study.

This would be a 12 per cent increase on current levels.

The £50,000 study was compiled by Reading consultants Peter Brett Associates on behalf of the town council.

It will inform the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan, which names 11 sites where the homes should be built by 2027 to meet housing targets.

Town councillors have been given a presentation the survey?s findings, including data on car parking, cycling, walking and freight traffic.

Sarah Matthews, of Peter Brett, said: ?There could be an increase of up to 120 cars in the town centre during peak hours. However, this is based on strong assumptions and doesn?t account for any mitigation the housing sites might deliver. It?s also based on traffic using the most direct route to their destination.?

The report looked at introducing a 20mph limit in the town, potentially alongside a low emissions zone to discourage some types of vehicle in the town centre.

It also discussed improving signage for car parks or decriminalising parking, which would mean traffic wardens would be able to enforce fines and tickets.

It said car parks such as those in Greys Road and King?s Road were overused, when there was often lots of space left at the car parks at the station and Henley Rugby Club.

A computer programme model showed the impact on traffic of three different scenarios as follows:

Pedestrianising areas of the town centre.
Removing traffic lights in Duke Street and Reading Road.
Redirecting traffic away from the town centre.

Each scenario showed that congestion would be eased in some areas but that traffic would increase elsewhere. Peter Brett said it was unliklely that all three scenarios could be implemented.

Among issues to be raised by members of the public was heavy goods vehicles passing through the town Justin Bowles, St Mark?s Road, suggested that a restriction order to allow only HGV deliveries in would be preferable to a low emission zone.

Ms Matthews replied that a restriction order on through traffic would be difficult to enforce.

Dave McEwan, of Church Street, said: ?I would have thought the thrust of what we are saying isn?t about car parking but getting people out of their cars and into other modes of transport.

?You mentioned 120 extra cars but that assumes national car ownership figures and doesn?t take into account initiatives like cycle routes and bus routes. I feel an opportunity has been missed to put a greater emphasis on improving the bus system.?

Kester George, chairman of Harpsden Parish Council, said he felt frustrated by the study. ?I would have hoped by this stage we would have got some pointers and have some prioritisation from the experts,? he said. ?They could have given some indication of what they think is best from their experience.?

Councillor Dylan Thomas added: ?I think we should get on and do this ourselves, not spend more taxpayers? money on things we could have worked out ourselves. These are things that could have been worked out on the back of a fag packet.?

Former Mayor Barry Wood said: ?I?m surprised there?s no correlation between education and congestion. Henley College has 92 bus movements along Greys Road each day over 38 weeks. That?s a hell of a lot.?

Councillor Will Hamilton, who chairs the council?s transport study group, said: ?This is just the study which will lead to the strategy.

?Something that will need to be worked out really early is what we want to do with car parking. This survey has the data which can give us the answers as to what goes where in the town.?

The complete study can be viewed here.

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