MORE traffic changes are being made to Stratford town centre as lockdown measures are further lifted.
Warwickshire County Council, Stratford District Council and Stratford Town Council have confirmed the changes made to the road layout to support social distancing while allowing for more business to open in line with the easing of government restrictions need to be retained.
It has always been the intention of all three councils and elected members to review and adapt the temporary scheme as appropriate. Further changes are now being implemented in response to feedback from businesses and the local community and will be implemented before the weekend.
* Rother Street will be returned to two-way traffic flow having been made one-way in the original scheme.
* Church Street will also be returned to two-way traffic flow between Chestnut Walk and Chapel Lane and on-street parking will be reinstated.
The measures, which were put in place ahead of the reopening of non-essential shops on the June 15 and in anticipation of a further reopening of the hospitality sector formed part of the councils’ response to the public health crises created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The scheme was designed to create additional space for social distancing and to give people visiting the town centre confidence they could move about safely. It has created additional space for pedestrian circulation, queuing outside premises and for bars and restaurants to be able to seat customers outside.
Several changes have already been made to the original scheme in response to an ongoing review and feedback:
* Alcester Road has been re-opened to two-traffic having originally been closed to town centre bound traffic from the junction with Brunel Way
* Traffic is now permitted to turn right from Alcester Road to Grove Road
* A number of barriers have been removed on Bridge Street following feedback that they were visually intrusive.
The temporary measures will continue to be reviewed including by using traffic and pedestrian monitoring equipment which is in the process of being deployed.
The councils are working with Stratforward to engage with town centre businesses to understand their immediate and longer-term needs and how the measures can support these. This will include working with restaurants and pubs which need additional outdoor space in which to trade. Further adjustments will be made to the scheme if needed.
Warwickshire County Council transport spokesman Coun Jeff Clarke said: “We needed to act quickly and decisively ahead of the reopening of non-essential shops to support social distancing to safeguard public health whilst also supporting economic recovery. We are now in a phase where we can review and adapt the measures where appropriate and the changes we are now making are part of this process.
“We always intended that the measures introduced to the town centre would be adaptable and flexible and that we would act quickly to make changes in response to operational issues, feedback and updated Government guidance in what is a fast-moving situation.
“I hope that the alterations we are making will enable a confident return to Stratford-upon-Avon town centre with appropriate measures in place to limit the spread of the virus and to enable businesses to start bouncing back from the effects of lockdown.”
Stratford District Council deputy leader Coun Daren Pemberton added: “These temporary measures were put in place quickly to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors in coming into the town. I have been in almost daily contact with the BID, Shakespeare’s England and individual business owners since lockdown began and this has continued so that I can best understand how the scheme is now working on the ground and how it can be improved.
“It is primarily in place to give confidence to our residents, visitors and those employed in the town centre that Stratford is Covid safe. This scheme will encourage more people to use the town over the longer term but we must realise how cautious people are at present and combined with the severe economic impact of the lockdown means that it will be some time before we see levels of activity return to anything like those we saw before the pandemic.
“Our job is to create the best climate for a successful recovery and we will continue to listen and modify the scheme where needed to achieve this objective.”
And Stratford mayor Tony Jackson said: “Whilst recognising that the current layout is not universally popular, the Town Council supports the priority of ensuring social distancing can be maintained to encourage people back into the town.
“Listening to feedback and making tweaks where appropriate was always the aim and this has been backed up with action. I’m sure further beneficial changes will be implemented in the coming weeks.”
Helen Peters, of Shakespeare’s England, added: “It is incredibly difficult to find the right balance between ensuring maximum safety for those visiting the town and working in the town, at the same time as supporting the viability of businesses and encouraging the footfall that will ensure their long term success.
“A perfect solution will not be found quickly and the scheme is likely to need further refinement.”
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/covid19roadlayouts for further details.