Penzance Covid Recovery Group Update
Members of Penzance Council have agreed to support draft proposals to reduce traffic in the town centre in principle and will now be working with Cornwall Council, Penzance BID and other local partners to develop a trial scheme which could be introduced in key areas of the town in August.
Last year Penzance became one of the first councils in the country to declare a Climate Emergency, with members supporting plans to create a car free town centre, improved cycle and pedestrian access and reduce emissions.
Since then there have been growing calls from local residents to reduce traffic dominance to support the health, well-being and vitality of the town, with widespread public support for proposals to pedestrianise areas such as Market Jew Street and the Promenade received during last year’s Penzance Expo and Neighbourhood Plan consultation.
Work on developing detailed proposals to reduce traffic in the town centre has been taking place during the past few months, with a trial scheme originally due to be introduced in September. However the impact of Covid 19 and the need to maximise public safety in the light of the re-opening of businesses, led to councillors at yesterday’s extraordinary Council meeting being asked to support bringing forward the introduction of the trial scheme.
A range of measures to help members of the public navigate the streets of the town whilst maintaining safe social distancing have already been introduced in some parts of the town centre. These include the temporary closure of Chapel Street on Thursday to Sunday evenings to provide more outdoor space for café, bars, pubs and restaurants.
The Government’s new pavement legislation is likely to see more businesses in the town centre seek to use the space outside their premises for seating and outdoor stalls during the next few weeks. Reducing through traffic in Market Jew street and other narrow streets will help improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists forced to use the main routes in the town centre.
While some councillors expressed concerns over the impact of introducing the scheme with local businesses still struggling from the impact of the lockdown, the meeting was told that traffic levels were currently around 70% of the usual July figures, providing an opportunity to introduce the changes earlier than originally planned.
The first phase of the trial includes proposals to reduce through traffic from Penzance town centre; make Market Jew Street more pedestrian friendly; modify the Branwells Mill gyratory system and reduce traffic on Western Promenade Road.
The scheme, which is being led by Cornwall Council, will be carried out under an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) process, with the measures remaining in place for 12 months.
While the use of this order, introduced as part of the Government’s emergency Covid legislation, means there is no pre consultation before the scheme is put in place, all comments made during the trial are treated as part of a “live consultation” and will be taken in account before any decision is made on a permanent scheme.
It also means that parts of the scheme can be modified at any time without having to wait for the end of the trial.
The costs of developing and implementing the first phase of the trial will be met by Cornwall Council, with funding for further phases, including extending the 20mph speed restriction within Penzance town centre, and providing bike hubs and other infrastructure, coming from either the Government or Penzance’s Town Deal programme.
“This is an exciting opportunity to trial a scheme which not only helps us manage the immediate challenges presented by Covid 19 but also deals with the wider challenges of climate change“ said Councillor Nicole Broadhurst, the Mayor of Penzance.
“By working together to develop these proposals we can help change travel habits at the same time as revitalising our town centre in a sustainable way. We can also make sure that the scheme considers the needs of people with mobility issues and those living in rural areas as well as ensuring there is sufficient parking available for those living and working in the town”.
“Many of these proposals were already being considered before the pandemic. We now have an ideal opportunity to transform our town centre and make sure Penzance is a thriving place for the future. “
Penzance Town Council serves the people of Penzance, Newlyn, Gulval, Mousehole and Paul. For further information or media interviews and comments on local matters, please contact:
Hester Hunt, Town Clerk or Rebecca Orchard, Communications Officer
Penzance Town Council, Penlee Centre, Penlee Park, Penzance
TR18 4HE 01736 363405