Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback on the proposals for the first phase of the Healthy Streets PZ scheme. It has been great to see so many people supporting the plans to make Penzance a better, healthier and easier place to live, work and shop.
While the introduction of the scheme now will certainly support the town’s Covid Recovery programme, work on developing detailed proposals to reduce traffic in the town centre has actually been taking place during the past year as part of our wider ambition to revitalise our economy, promote sustainable transport and tackle climate change.
Last year Penzance became one of the first councils in the country to declare a Climate Emergency, with members unanimously supporting plans to create a car free town centre, improved cycle and pedestrian access and reduce emissions. Cornwall Council has also declared a climate emergency, launching its own climate emergency action plan.
Since then there have also 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.
Post Covid consultation carried out by Cornwall Council has also found strong support for the pedestrianisation of high streets to support social distancing and a sustainable recovery, with 70% of people reporting they have enjoyed cleaner air outdoors. Pedestrianisation trials are currently taking place in Falmouth and Truro.
After changing the original plans to introduce the first phase of the scheme in the middle of August following feedback from businesses and local people, it was agreed to implement the new pedestrian zone from 3 September. Making such a significant change to a well-established traffic layout was always going to be challenging and inevitably there will be some elements which do not work as expected . However, as this is a ‘living trial’, these can be amended during the scheme to ensure that it is meeting the needs of all parts of our community.
We recognise the importance of ensuring the town centre is accessible to everyone and have been working with representatives of a wide range of disability rights groups to develop a disabled access strategy to ensure that the trial scheme meets their needs.
While the introduction of the pedestrianisation scheme means that blue badge holders will no longer be able to park in the eight limited waiting spaces on Market Jew Street between 11 am and 4pm, additional blue badge spaces will shortly be provided in the Clarence Street car parks with appropriate linkages to the main shopping streets (these are on the raised section providing flat access to Causewayhead and the town). The route from the car park to Market Jew Street has also been reviewed to ensure that it is fully accessible for people with disabilities.
The current 5 disabled parking spaces on Princes Street and 4 spaces on Chapel Street are also remaining, together with the 45 blue badge spaces in Cornwall Council car parks in the town, including 33 spaces in the Harbour / Wharfside car park.
Following an initial discussion with disability groups the timing of the introduction of the restrictions was changed from 10 am to 11 am to give people with disabilities more time to visit the town centre and do their shopping. Since then a number of further measures have been added to the scheme to improve accessibility in the town.
Following concerns over the impact of A boards and other street furniture on people with sight impairment, a review is being carried out of the existing street furniture and any potential trip hazards on Market Jew Street to identify any “quick fixes” which could be carried out as part of the trial scheme.
We are also aware that existing disabled parking spaces are being used by non blue badge holders and, following an audit of disabled bay and parking space usage in the town centre, are working with partners to ensure that restrictions on their use are being properly enforced.
Work is also taking place to re-introduce a Shop Mobility scheme in the town to support people with significant mobility issues. Penzance BID, the Town Deal Board and other partners are working extremely hard to ensure it is available as quickly as possible, with discussions currently taking place to identify a location for the scheme.
We are certainly not ignoring the concerns of people with disabilities in our town. We understand the issues which have been raised about access and are committed to ensuring that the final scheme is working for everyone. A number of changes were made to the scheme following previous discussions with disability groups and we have invited Disability Cornwall and iSight Cornwall to make a site visit at the end of the month to see how the scheme is working in practice once it has had time to settle in properly.
As the pedestrian zone will prevent deliveries / collections taking place on Market Jew Street during the zone operational hours, additional loading bays have been provided within Market Jew Street for when the road is open to vehicles. This will enable increased servicing provision. Major delivery companies have been contacted to inform them of the changes and have also been advised of the location of existing loading bays outside of the pedestrian zone.
As we can review and amend the trial as we go along to make sure it works for everyone, we are keen to hear views and ideas from all parts of our community. However, as this is a brand new scheme, it is important to allow it to settle down so we can see how it is working before we make any changes. Significant alterations to traffic layout always need a time for people to adapt and it is not possible to do everything at once.
It is also important to recognise that this first phase is part of a longer term, wider vision for Penzance which focuses on improving access and revitalising the town for everyone. Please bear with us as we work together to make Penzance a thriving place for the future.