News that Penzance has been chosen as one of three areas in Cornwall to share £607,000 of Government funding to improve local cycling and walking routes has been welcomed by key organisations in the town.
The funding follows a successful bid by Cornwall Council to the Department for Transport Active Travel Fund scheme. This is designed to support plans being developed in towns and cities to change local road networks to improve the health of local communities and combat climate change.
In Penzance the funding will be used to support the delivery of the Healthy Streets PZ scheme.
Developed earlier this year by a partnership which includes Penzance Council, Penzance BID, Sustainable Penzance and Cornwall Council, the aim of the scheme is to help reduce traffic and pollution levels in the town centre and create a better environment for all. It is also part of a wider ambition to promote sustainable transport and tackle climate change, and make Penzance a thriving place for the future.
With specific measures to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists in the town centre and cut carbon emissions by reducing traffic levels and promoting other, more sustainable, forms of transport, the scheme reflects the views expressed by local residents during last year’s Penzance Expo and Neighbourhood Plan consultation, and also supports the aims set out in the Climate Emergency declarations made by the Town Council and Cornwall Council.
Following feedback from partners, local businesses and residents and representatives of disability groups, a number of changes have been made to the original plans to ensure the town centre remains accessible to everyone. Partners are continuing to monitor the scheme and will make any further changes as required.
“The announcement that Penzance has been chosen by Cornwall Council as one of the three towns to benefit from this funding is very good news “ said Penzance Councillor Jonathan How, who represents the Town Council on the Healthy Streets working group. “The first phase of the Healthy Streets scheme, which was introduced in September, involved creating a cycle and pedestrian friendly area in the town centre. This new funding will enable us to build on this work and support the delivery of the next phases of the scheme”.
Cornwall Councillor Jim Mckenna, who is also a member of the Healthy Streets PZ partnership, also welcomes the Council’s decision to allocate funding to the scheme. “We have been working very hard to develop our plans for the town and secure funding to provide improved access to safe walking and cycling routes for both local residents and visitors” he said.
“Feedback from the trial to date suggests that there is a lot of support from the local community to create a better environment for everyone in our town centre. I would like to thank the portfolio holder Geoff Brown for listening to our proposals and choosing Penzance as one of the three areas to receive this funding”.
One of the key aims of the Healthy Streets scheme is to reduce traffic dominance to support the health, well-being and vitality of Penzance.
“We have seen a significant reduction in the number of vehicles driving through Market Jew Street since the introduction of the restrictions”. said Rachel Yates, from Sustainable Penzance. “This has made a real difference to the feel of the town, with more space for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as reducing noise pollution and improving air quality.”
“Implementing the final two phases of the scheme will enable us to improve walking and cycling facilities across other parts of Penzance, and promote more sustainable forms of transport. It’ll be a huge help as we work towards creating a truly accessible town for all and reducing carbon emissions in response to the climate emergency”.
Work is currently taking place to develop the next phase of the scheme which includes providing four additional pedestrian crossings on Western Promenade Road and extending the 20 mph zone.
Consultation on these measures will take place in January, with this phase due to be introduced by the end of February.
Work is also taking place on designing the final phase of the scheme, which includes changes to Battery Road. As this is not expected to be implemented until the Autumn, the designs are still at a very early stage.
“The re-opening of shops and cafes, pubs and restaurants following the lifting of the second lockdown has seen a significant increase in the number of people in the town centre “ said Jessica Morris, from Penzance BID. “Both shoppers and local businesses have welcomed the additional space created in Market Jew Street as a result of the restrictions.
“Like other towns and cities across the country, the pandemic has had a huge impact on our local businesses and news of this funding is a fantastic early Christmas present for our town.”