Wiltshire Council has announced an exciting and ambitious plan to prioritise walking and cycling in the centre of Salisbury.
The People Friendly Salisbury project will see several streets in the centre of the city prioritised for walkers and cyclists between certain times of the day, with motorised access to these areas for certain vehicles only, including emergency vehicles, buses, taxis and tourist coaches, by removing through traffic without significantly inconveniencing residents and businesses.
Designs for the project will be available to the public and local stakeholders in mid-July, with an invitation for comments on the plans to be accepted until early August. Then, in the autumn, the project will begin and will be trialled for a period of 18 months.
The scheme is subject to an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO), which allows for changes to be made throughout the life of the project, so feedback from residents, businesses and local groups is encouraged throughout the 18 months. The council can then make changes to the project based on this feedback to ensure it is bringing benefits for local people and businesses.
The concept of People Friendly Salisbury has already been subject to some consultation, as part of the Salisbury Central Area Framework (CAF) consultation, which took place in 2019, and the Salisbury Transport Strategy (STS) refresh, in 2018.
The project has widespread support from local stakeholders and people that completed the CAF consultation, with 48% of respondents saying that they ‘strongly agree' that Wiltshire Council should prioritise walking and cycling over cars in the city, and 23% stating that they ‘agree' with that statement.
More than a mile of the city's streets have been identified as areas the council can transform from vehicle dominant areas to people friendly streets, by significantly reducing the amount of traffic on them, while also maintaining access for emergency vehicles, buses and some other vehicles.
The exact details of the project are still to be agreed, but streets, or part of, that are identified in the plan include Castle Street, Blue Boar Row, Endless Street, Winchester Street, Brown Street, Milford Street, New Canal, High Street, Bridge Street, Fisherton Street, Silver Street, Minster Street and Avon Approach. This will be controlled through ‘bus gates', which allow some exempted vehicles through, with cameras as support for enforcement.
Cllr Bridget Wayman, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: "This exciting People Friendly Salisbury project will transform the central area of the city, giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists, aiding social distancing and, in turn, hopefully improving footfall for businesses.
"It will also improve air quality in the city, and will help with our pledge to make Wiltshire Council carbon neutral by 2030, and to support Wiltshire to do the same.
"The changes will be subject to an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO), which allows for tweaks to be made to the scheme, so we'd welcome feedback as the scheme progresses; and we'll also be monitoring and reporting the scheme during the 18 months to measure its effectiveness.
"Our teams are now working on creating the designs for the scheme, which we hope to have in place in mid-July, when we'll accept comments for two weeks, before work starts on the project in the autumn.
"We can't wait for this exciting project to get started and bring benefits to the city and its businesses."
Dean Speer, Vice Chair of Salisbury BID and Partner of Myddelton & Major, said: "This ambitious plan could really transform the city centre and make Salisbury become a destination of choice. Whilst consumer habits are unsettled due to the pandemic, this is an opportunity to be bold and deliver pioneering plans to help the city recover and allow businesses to flourish.
"This is a crucial time for the economy as businesses reopen in a phased manner It's important that these plans are implemented now, before the busy Christmas trading period, to ensure consumers feel safe and have the confidence to return to Salisbury to support our businesses.
"We recognise there may be some initial challenges with the plans as different stakeholder needs are considered, and we need to ensure small businesses are still accessible for deliveries, however the plans could be transformational for Salisbury, so we're encouraging businesses to be open-minded to the change.
"Businesses will need to engage with the consultation and throughout the project to ensure it is effective and a success. The regulations Wiltshire Council propose to use allow flexibility, so there will be opportunities to change and adapt the scheme once it has been working and the results can be seen.
"We welcome this innovative plan from Wiltshire Council and the BID is looking forward to representing city centre businesses and championing their needs throughout the project."
The Leader of Salisbury City Council, Cllr Jeremy Nettle, said: "This is a huge opportunity to trial something very different in the city as it re-opens after coronavirus.
"There may well be problems that need to be faced, particularly around the displacement of traffic on to the ring road, and potential ‘rat-runs'. However, I am encouraged that this is an experimental trial that enables tweaks and adjustments, whilst potentially radically improving pedestrianisation and air quality in our beautiful city.
"I firmly believe we need to take advantage of this ‘once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity and together make it work for the city. I have to see more details of the scheme, and look forward to having the chance to give feedback and would encourage others to do so too."
Find out more and read the FAQs here.
In partnership with VisitWiltshire, Salisbury BID co-fund the Visit Salisbury website to promote the city to visitors. The Visit Salisbury website has a full events calendar for Salisbury.