Traffic restrictions in Penzance’s town centre to be made permanent following 18 months tria
Following a detailed assessment of the impact of the 18 months Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) in Market Jew Street, and analysis of feedback from all parts of the local community, members of the Healthy Streets PZ partnership have agreed that the scheme should be made permanent.
Introduced in September 2020 to help reduce traffic and pollution levels in the town centre and create a better environment for all, the Healthy Streets PZ scheme also supports the aims set out in the Climate Emergency declarations made by the Town Council and Cornwall Council and the Local Transport Plan to promote sustainable transport and cut carbon emissions.
99% of people responding to a survey carried out in 2021 said that having safe roads was important to them, with 72% wanting access to good cycle routes and facilities, and 92% wanting good bus services. 84% wanted to see lower levels of traffic and congestion, and lower levels of traffic pollution. These findings reflect the views expressed by local residents during the Penzance Expo and Neighbourhood Plan consultation in 2018.
Prior to the introduction of the scheme, up to 250 vehicles per hour were entering Market Jew Street between 11 am and 4 pm. In October 2020 this had dropped to 90 to 100 vehicles per hour.
The latest traffic monitoring figures for January 2022 show 30 to 40 vehicles per hour entering the town centre during the restricted period – an 80% reduction which marks a significant change in motorised traffic frequency, with deliveries being mainly made outside the hours of 11 am to 4pm.
The traffic monitoring also shows a sharp rise in the number of pedestrians using Market Jew Street between 11 am and 4pm.
This means an average of just 35 vehicles an hour are now entering Market Jew Street during the restricted period compared with over 270 pedestrians an hour during weekdays, making it safer and much more pleasant for pedestrians, including parents with young children and cyclists, to move around the town centre.
A Traffic Regulation Order confirming that the current restrictions in Market Jew Street will remain in place following the end of the trial will be published on 24 February, with the scheme officially becoming permanent on 2 March.
This means the low traffic zone will continue to operate in Market Jew Street between 11am and 4pm.
Buses will continue to access Market Jew Street 24 hours a day. Nine bus services per hour currently bring passengers from nearby towns and surrounding areas into the centre of the town, servicing the bus station and Market Jew Street before leaving Penzance by different routes.
There has been a significant investment in bus services across Cornwall. New low emission buses with low floor access have been introduced across the network, making it easier for parents with pushchairs and people with disabilities to get on and off the vehicles. A new bus stop has been installed in Market Jew Street, providing a safe, dry space for passengers to wait. Further downhill bus stop improvements in Market Jew Street are also being explored as part of the developing Town Deal streetscape scheme.
Taxis will continue to access the town centre 24 hours a day, stopping in the street to drop off and pick up passengers as required.
All traffic, including delivery drivers, will still be able to drive through the street between 4pm and 11 am.
Work will also continue on implementing plans to remove the town centre sign which currently points traffic along Chyandour, with new signs being erected to encourage visitors to use the bypass to enter Penzance.
Following feedback from disabled user groups and individuals, the Healthy Streets partnership have provided a number of additional measures to improve accessibility in the town since the introduction of the scheme
Plans are also being developed in partnership with the Town Deal Board to deliver further improvements. These include trebling the number of parking spaces for blue badge holders in and around Market Jew Street, and improving routes into the town centre to ensure they are fully accessible to people with disabilities.
Specific improvements include:
- Providing three new disabled parking spaces in the Clarence Street car park last year and developing plans to increase the overall number of ‘blue badge’ parking spaces in and around the town centre from 7 to 21. Consultation on the additional blue badge parking spaces is due to take place in March.
- Installing the new covered bus shelter in Market Jew Street
- Arranging priority appointments in local shops for people with disabilities
- Removing potential hazards in the town centre for people with sight impairment
- Finalising plans for delivering the shop mobility scheme. This is due to be launched after Easter.
- Developing plans to provide flat access from the Clarence Street car park into the town centre and installing dropped kerbs, tactile paving and other measures to create more accessible routes into the town centre. This will be subject to Town Deal funding.
There will also be a large number of new seats provided on Market Jew Street. This will make the street more accessible for those who are less mobile and improve the experience for people visiting the town centre.
Further discussions will also be held with disability groups and other interested parties to identify any other measures to improve access to the town centre.
The restrictions have continued to be enforced through the use of Cornwall Council’s civil parking enforcement team – with penalty charge notices issued to people found to be breaching the restrictions. An average of up 60 tickets have been issued per month, with 170 tickets issued to drivers during the period between October and December 2021.
Further discussions on enforcement will take place in the coming months.