Middle Street pedestrianisation proposal ready for public consultation
The pedestrianisation of Middle Street is part of the Yeovil Refresh plans to improve the quality of public spaces and to ensure Yeovil is easy to get to, safe, accessible and attractive to move through.
The Yeovil Refresh document highlights that although the top end of Middle Street experiences the highest levels of footfall in the town, it currently has the poorest provision for pedestrians with narrow pavements and space dominated by vehicle routes and parking.
As a result of these findings, SSDC has begun investigating the possibility of redressing the balance between pedestrians and cars in the town centre and creating a vehicle free area at the top of Middle Street through the use of a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO).
A number of accessible bays would need to be relocated in the town centre to accommodate the possible changes, however, redefining the width of the pavements would see improvements for wheelchair users and parents with buggies and prams. Removing vehicles and other obstructions also benefits people with visual impairments who find it difficult to navigate the many obstacles and barriers, including parked cars. It also assists those who may be hard of hearing, as SSDC have been approached by deaf residents who have expressed concerns about their safety now car engines are so quiet, and not having to worry about listening for the noise of car engines in the area would be beneficial.
SSDC will be working with Access for All solutions, a registered charity that aim to improve access for all, in order to identify the most appropriate place to relocate the accessible parking bays and to ensure that any proposed changes to surfacing contain safety measures that help assist blind and partially sighted visitors to the town. Blue Badge Holders receive an extra hour free of charge on top of their purchased parking time in SSDC owned car parks to allow for movement around the town centre.
Consultation began with local businesses to better understand delivery patterns and to get a broad view regarding closing the area to traffic during opening hours. Many business owners agreed that opening up this area to pedestrians, and subsequent physical improvements, would be beneficial to their businesses. As a result of this initial consultation, work is taking place to investigate additional loading space in the vicinity, in addition to the extra accessible parking spaces required.
The consultation is now open to the public to give their feedback on the proposals. Information from the consultation will be used to inform final plans which will be submitted to Somerset County Council, who will undertake their own formal consultation before making a decision on the TRO.
Councillor Peter Gubbins, Executive Portfolio Holder for Yeovil Town Centre Regeneration and Chairman of Area South Committee said, "Now is the first opportunity for you have your say on the improvement plans for Middle Street before the final documents are submitted to Somerset County Council. Improvements to the top end of Middle Street will have benefits for people and businesses in that area and we currently consulting with Access For All Solutions to minimise the impact for those who are disabled that currently park in this area."
"South Somerset District Council are committed to taking forward the Yeovil Refresh plans, as outlined in the Corporate Plan and helping the economy of Yeovil to thrive."
What am I being consulted on?
Currently there is a TRO in place which restricts certain vehicles to access the top of Middle Street between 11:00am and 4:00pm. South Somerset District Council is proposing to remove all vehicle access between 9:00am and 5:00pm. This will allow businesses to receive their deliveries but would create a safe, accessible and attractive space for shoppers in the town centre during the busiest times of the day.
How can I have my say?
To have your say as part of the consultation, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us at: TRO Consultation, South Somerset District Council, The Council Offices, Brympton Way, Yeovil, Somerset, BA20 2HT. All comments received will used to form the basis of the TRO submission to Somerset County Council. The consultation will end on Wednesday 31 October 2018.
The aim of Yeovil Refresh is to create a town centre that will be a vibrant place to live, work, shop, learn and visit. Working with consultants and key partners, South Somerset District Council has been exploring how it can best invest in Yeovil's future.
Consultation on the initial Yeovil Refresh document showed us that:
- You'd like to see the main high streets kept clean and better kept with nicer planters and other greenery, while keeping the streets from being too cluttered;
- You'd like to see improvements in vehicular and pedestrian access into the heart of Yeovil for locals and visitors;
- There are concerns about some vehicle access to parts of the town centre (in particular on Middle Street);
- You'd like to make the town's open areas more appealing, using the space that is available to encourage visitors.
Above: Middle Street in Yeovil