Five more traffic restriction schemes could be introduced on a trial basis, as part of the liveable neighbourhood scheme. The council also now have another 70 in the pipeline to look at
By John Wimperis - Local Democracy Reporter
21st Sep 2023 | Local News
Five new traffic restriction schemes could go live in Bath and North East Somerset this year on an experimental basis.
Joel Hirst, Bath and North East Somerset Council's cabinet lead on highways, said that the council were looking at bringing "approximately five" new traffic restriction measures on an experimental basis — as part of the council's planned liveable neighbourhood programme.
He said that the council were aiming to bring them in by December, but it could take into spring 2024. More information — including where the new measures would be brought in — is expected to be announced in November, as details are still being worked out.
Speaking at a meeting of the council's climate emergency and sustainability policy development and scrutiny panel on 14 September, Mr Hirst said: "The aim of the programme is about improving residential streets, encouraging safe, active, and sustainable forms of transport: walking, wheeling, cycling.
"So making our residential areas less of somewhere that somebody wants to drive through cutting a corner, and more about for the residents as a nice place to live."
He told the meeting: "In the run up to the local election the liveable neighbourhood piece did create quite a large amount of debate and I think the cabinet's view is that the election outcome was seen as a strong mandate for moving forward with this programme and developing this as best we can."
Three traffic reduction measures in the programme are currently live in Bath and North East Somerset on a trial basis: on Southlands in Weston, on Church Street in Widcombe, and on Queen Charlton Lane near Whitchurch.
Mr Hirst said that the council would be carrying out engagement on these three schemes to determine whether they were a "good experiment," and if they should be withdrawn or amended. He said: "This should be landing soon on people's mats."
The council's liveable neighbourhood programme currently includes 15 schemes for areas in Bath and North East Somerset where traffic reduction measures could be brought in — but Mr Hirst said that another 70 had been proposed by councillors under the previous administration for the next phase of liveable neighbourhoods.
He added that the initial 15 liveable neighbourhood schemes had gone through a "Rolls Royce of co-design" with local communities, but he warned this took a lot of time and raised expectations.
Commenting on how the next phase of liveable neighbourhoods should be developed, Oldfield Park councillor Ian Halsall warned that the debate over the schemes had become "politicised."
He said: "Really I think we should speed things up as quickly and as fairly as we can because if we get liveable neighbourhoods implemented, the residents are going to see the benefit of them rather than being anti them."
Lambridge councillor Saskia Heijltjes added: "I think its very important that we let people experience the interventions, so with an [experimental traffic regulation order], and then do proper consultation.
"Its very hard for people to understand what the effect will be on their streets and I think once you experience it, that is when we need to get the feedback. Things like interventions like planters in Southlands, they are actually really cheap to take out again so that is not an issue."
But Moorlands councillor Jess David warned against "throwing the baby out with the bathwater."
She said: "With these schemes, they are controversial. There is a lot of noise out there; we have to do engagement. Part of our job is to bring people with us and have those conversations about what people want.
"So I think that's a really good thing about how B&NES has gone about liveable neighbourhood so far and I wouldn't want to lose that."