Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Lowering speed limit will boost town trade

A DRIVE to “reclaim” Watlington’s high street for residents and visitors has been launched by the parish council.

It wants the public’s view on introducing a temporary 20mph speed limit on the road, widening footpaths and restricting its use to residents and businesses.

It wants residents to complete a survey giving their views on the proposals.

The council said: “Social distancing has highlighted the deficiencies in the roadside footpaths in central Watlington.

“There is little that can be done in Couching Street and Shirburn Street to provide safer sidewalks because of the narrowness of the road and the volume of traffic they carry. High Street, however, is different.”

It says here the footpaths are very narrow in places — as narrow as 0.7m at the Barley Mow pinch point on the south side, while the south side is partially obstructed by planters and by steps up to the houses facing onto the road.

The north side is wider, more level and less interrupted by steps but still has a few pinch points.

Queuing outside some shops at certain times has proved a problem with social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to shopkeepers complaining that access to their shops is obstructed.

The council said: “We want to reclaim High Street for residents and visitors to the town and to make it an even more attractive place to visit.

“Several more or less ambitious schemes have been considered but we are starting at the less ambitious end of the scale, with the hope that we can get this in place quickly.”

The council believes it can get the 20mph limit, pavement widening and restricted access accepted quickly under the covid-19 guidance for the Traffic Management Act 2004.

This was updated in May by the Department for Transport and means local authorities can make changes to road layouts.

The council wants to pursue a single temporary traffic order for all three measures and these can be in place for up to 18 months.

The 20mph speed limit will be signposted at both of the entrances at the eastern end of the High Street. There are no other public roads entering High Street until Chapel Street near the western end, and the 20mph limit will end at Chapel Street to avoid the need for speed limit signs on Chapel Street, Farmhouse Mews and Church Street.

The 20 mph limit signs at the eastern end of the road will carry the warning “pedestrians on road” beneath the roundel.

The council added: “Traffic cones in the road will be used to provide additional footpath space on the northern side of the road in front of the shops where queuing is most frequent and the width of the road permits.

“The three short-term parking bays on the south side outside the butchers shop will be designated as ‘loading bays — delivery and collection only’.”

Any changes would have to be approved by Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority.

To respond to the survey, visit www.surveymonkey

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