Penzance is developing plans to make the town more pedestrian friendly as part of a bold new vision to tackle the climate emergency, attract new investment and businesses, and boost the local economy.
The first stage of a wider ambition to make Penzance a thriving place for the future, Healthy Streets PZ aims to reduce through traffic and encourage more people to leave the car at home by creating pedestrianised areas in the town centre, developing new accessible routes, promoting walking and cycling and providing other more sustainable forms of transport.
Developed by Cornwall Council in partnership with Penzance Council, Penzance BID and Sustainable Penzance, the trial scheme will be delivered in three main phases over the next 12 months.
As the scheme is being implemented under an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) process, any parts which are not working as expected can be modified at any time during the trial. Members of the public can give their views throughout the trial period, with all comments taken into account before a decision is made on a permanent scheme.
Following some concerns from the local business community over the impact of introducing the new measures during the peak summer season, work on the first phase – to pedestrianise Market Jew Street – will now begin in the first week of September. The remaining phases to modify the Branwells Mill gyratory system and reduce traffic on Western Promenade Road, and extend the 20mph zone, will be introduced later in the scheme to minimise disruption.
Changes have also been made to the proposed timing of the introduction of the traffic restrictions in Market Jew Street. As a result they are now due to come into operation at 11am rather than at 10 am. As well as providing more flexibility for deliveries in the town centre, this later start time will provide more time for blue badge holders to access the town centre to do their shopping or carry out other essential business.
“Although this is a trial scheme we wanted to make sure that we listened to the concerns of local stakeholders while preparing the initial draft proposals “ said Councillor Nicole Broadhurst, the Mayor of Penzance.
Details of the proposals are still being developed, with officers from Cornwall Council’s transport department due to meet with representatives of local disability groups before a final scheme is agreed.
“ We know that local people are very keen to see details of the scheme“ said Penzance BID Manager Jessica Morris. “I share their eagerness but we need to make sure that it meets the needs of people with mobility issues and those living in rural areas, as well as local businesses. This means giving these groups the opportunity to discuss the proposals and help shape the final scheme. “
Once the scheme has been finalised, full details and plans will be published on the Healthy Streets PZ section on the Love Penzance website: This is expected to be completed within the next two weeks.
The website will then be kept updated with all the latest information about the scheme. There will also be a contact form for members of the public to ask questions and provide feedback on the scheme.
“Healthy Streets PZ is an exciting first step in a longer journey to regenerate our local economy at the same time as tackling climate crisis and ensuring a sustainable future for the town “ said Rachel Yates, from Sustainable Penzance. “We have seen growing calls from local residents to reduce traffic dominance to support the health, well-being and vitality of Penzance, 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.
“By using pedestrianisation measures to support social distancing and a sustainable recovery, this trial will not only help us manage the immediate challenges presented by Covid 19, it will also help us start to deal with the wider challenges of creating a truly accessible town for all and reducing carbon emissions and air pollution in response to the climate emergency” .
Cornwall Council is promoting green and active travel under its climate change action plan to help Cornwall become carbon neutral by 2030.
Cornwall’s portfolio holder for transport Councillor Geoff Brown said: “Not only will this innovative trial scheme provide residents with more opportunities for green travel and encourage them to enjoy outdoor environment, it will also help revitalise the town centre.
“This is a great example of how Cornwall Council is supporting and facilitating community schemes to reduce carbon emissions and how we can join forces to help tackle the climate emergency together and improve the environment for everyone.