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Healthy Streets PZ FAQ

Cornwall Council has been working with local organisations, including Penzance Place Shaping Partnership, Penzance Council, Penzance BID, and Sustainable Penzance to develop a trial scheme to reduce through traffic in the town centre and increase opportunities for walking and cycling in and around the town.  This is part of Penzance’s commitment to revitalise its economy, promote sustainable transport and tackle climate change.

In the short term the scheme will also support the town’s Covid Recovery programme by reducing traffic in key parts of the town, helping members of the public navigate the narrow streets whilst maintaining safe social distancing.

The measures being proposed include:

  • reducing through traffic from Penzance town centre;
  • pedestrianising Market Jew Street;
  • modifying the Branwells Mill gyratory system,
  • reducing traffic on Western Promenade Road; and
  • extending the 20mph speed restriction within Penzance town centre

The trial is being led by Cornwall Council and, if agreed, will be carried out under an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) process, with the measures remaining in place for 12 months.

The use of the experimental order also means that any parts of the scheme which are not working can be modified at any time without having to wait for the end of the trial.

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.

Since then there have 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.

With research showing that 41% of local residents currently travel less than 5km to the town centre, many of these journeys could be made on foot or by bicycle, e-bike or public transport.

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.

Seven in 10 residents said they would be willing to continue home working and / or reduced travel after the pandemic is over to benefit the environment, with less pollution, a reduction in traffic and greater use of walking, cycling and public transport among the top three priorities for future changes.

Work on developing detailed proposals to reduce traffic in the town centre has been taking place during the past few months, with a trial scheme originally due to be introduced in September. However the impact of Covid 19 and the need to maximise public safety in the light of the re-opening of businesses, has led to the scheme being brought forward to August.

While the amount of traffic has been increasing since the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions, road traffic levels are currently at about 70% of typical July traffic levels. This provides sufficient headroom to introduce the trial in summer with the benefits it will bring to trading and economic activity. It is also apparent that more people are currently walking and cycling.

A range of measures to support safe social distancing have already been introduced in parts of the town centre. These include the temporary closure of Chapel Street on Thursday to Sunday evenings to provide more outdoor space for café, bars, pubs and restaurants.

The Government’s new pavement legislation is likely to see more businesses in the town centre seek to use the space outside their premises for seating and outdoor stalls during the next few weeks. Reducing through traffic in Market Jew street and other narrow streets will help improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists forced to use the main routes in the town centre.

We will, however, be monitoring traffic patterns throughout the trial and we can respond to issues that may arise.

This crisis has provided the opportunity to accelerate the trial, transform the town centre and make sure Penzance is a thriving place for the future.

The use of an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order, introduced as part of the Government’s emergency Covid legislation, means there is no pre consultation process before a scheme is put in place.

However all comments made during the trial are treated as part of a “live consultation” and will be taken in account before any decision is made on a permanent scheme.

The scheme will be closely monitored throughout the trial to assess how it is working.

As this is an experimental order any parts of the scheme which are not working as expected can be modified at any time without having to wait for the end of the trial.

No

The aim of the scheme is to reduce the level of through traffic in the town centre during the main part of the day to improve the environment and safety of pedestrians and cyclists living, working and visiting Penzance.

Signage will be used to encourage people who don’t need to drive through the town centre to use the A30 rather than drive through the narrow streets.  Access will be maintained for emergency vehicles, buses and taxis, as well as for people who live and work in the town centre.

The costs of developing and implementing the first phase of the trial will be met by Cornwall Council.

Funding for further phases, including extending the 20mph speed restriction within Penzance town centre, and developing proposals for an electric hoppa bus and Tuk Tuk service, a new park and ride and a park and bike system and a dedicated Shop Mobility scheme, together with segregated cycle lanes and bike hubs, will be provided either by the Government or from Penzance’s Town Deal programme.

We recognise the importance of ensuring the town centre is accessible to everyone and will be working with representatives of a wide range of disability rights groups to develop a disabled access strategy to ensure that the scheme meets their needs.

While the proposals will mean blue badge holders will no longer be able to park in the 8 limited waiting spaces on Market Jew Street, additional blue badge spaces will be provided in the Harbour and the Greenmarket car parks with appropriate linkages to the main shopping streets.

The current 5 disabled parking spaces on Princes Street and 4 spaces on Chapel Street will also remain, together with the 45 blue badge spaces in Cornwall Council car parks in the town, including 33 in the Harbour / Wharfside car park.

We are also investigating the possibility of using some of the Town Deal funding to re-introduce a Shop Mobility scheme in the town.

The signage and traffic regulation orders proposed should make the access restrictions reasonably self-enforcing.  The layout of the road and the markings will also positively reinforce and enable traffic management. However, Cornwall Council will be monitoring traffic at the restrictions to ensure that the restrictions are being adhered to.

Waiting and loading restrictions on Market Jew Street that will be restricted during the time periods for the pedestrianisation will be enforced by the existing Cornwall Council civil enforcement officers as part of their duties within the town.

Already recognised as the first place in the country to receive plastic free status, implementing this scheme will enable Penzance to build on its green credentials by developing measures to increase opportunities for walking and cycling, reduce traffic in the town centre and improve public transport.

Reducing through traffic will help ensure the safety of the people who live, work, and visit Penzance at the same time as supporting the development of an attractive “café style culture” which will help attract more shoppers to the town centre.

With the pedestrianisation of town centres seen as a key factor in regenerating local economies at the same time as tackling climate change and ensuring a sustainable future, Penzance can lead the way in becoming a thriving town for the future.

The bus stop has been relocated to provide greater space for people to wait for the bus and to pass along Market Jew Street given the current safe distancing guidelines. The footway is very narrow outside Boots and the existing bus stop results in people bunching up in close proximity which is not ideal in the current situation. In addition, the relocated bus stop has benches nearby,  assisting those people who need to sit whilst waiting for a bus.While moving the existing bus shelter as part of the trial has removed some weather protection, should the overall trial prove to be positive, a shelter will be provided adjacent to the new bus stop.

In the short term road markings in the vicinity of Albert Street and the Branwells Mill gyratory system will be changed as part of the trial scheme. This is being done to reduce the volumes of traffic using Market Jew Street as a ‘short cut’ across Penzance.

If the trial scheme proves effective and is supported by the wider community, the longer term aspirations would be to physically change the Branwells Mill gyratory area to provide much greater levels of pedestrian accessibility. This would then enhance the local environment around the businesses at the eastern end of Market Jew Street and those that front onto the gyratory system.

These are used to assist people with sight impairment so that they know that the green man symbol is showing. As part of the yellow push button units for traffic signal controlled pedestrian crossings, there is a metal cone underneath the push button unit that spins / rotates when the green man symbol is illuminated.. Audible beepers are also used in some locations but cannot be used everywhere, particularly where there are multiple crossings in close proximity as there can be potential confusion as to which crossing is ‘beeping’.

Entering the pedestrian and cycle zone is a moving traffic offence which can only be enforced by the police, outside of London. The reason we have switched from a blue bus lane sign at the Market Place end of Market Jew Street to a red ‘no entry’ sign is to reinforce the moving traffic offence should unauthorised vehicles pass the sign. The sign at the Branwells Mill gyratory sign is a regulatory sign, with a red circle, and needs to be obeyed. As part of the pedestrian and cycle zone we have retained the no loading restrictions during the zone operational period and restricted loading and waiting to specific areas outside of the operational period. Therefore, if a vehicle does drive through the restriction and then stop to load or wait, this can be enforced by the civil parking enforcement officers. We are aware that some vehicles may ignore the signage and drive through and will be monitoring the levels of compliance during the trial. Should the trial be successful and supported by the wider community we would look to introduce more permanent measures to ensure compliance with the restrictions.  These could include rising bollards or barriers to restrict entry to the pedestrian zone during the restricted times.

No, blue badge holders will not be able to enter the zone or park between the hours of 11am-4pm. As well as the prohibition of motor vehicles restriction (signed at the start of the Pedestrian and cycle zone) prohibiting access between 11am-4pm, loading restrictions will be in place for the entire length of Market Jew Street between the hours or 11am-4pm. Outside of the zone operational times, limited waiting bays will be available for use by anyone for up to 30 minutes, or for an unlimited time by blue badge holders (between the hours of 4pm -11am).

The scheme was developed last year by a partnership which includes Penzance Council, Penzance BID, Sustainable Penzance and Cornwall Council. The aim of the Healthy Streets PZ scheme is to reduce traffic and pollution levels in the town centre and create a better environment for all, allowing space for people to move around safely and comfortably. The scheme is also part of the 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 the Penzance Expo and Neighbourhood Plan consultation. It also supports the aims set out in the Climate Emergency declarations made by the Town Council and Cornwall Council.

The second phase of the scheme includes providing additional pedestrian crossings on Western Promenade Road and extending the 20 mph speed limit.
The specific proposals are to

  • Extend the 20mph speed limit in Penzance town centre and the residential areas up to and including Alexandra Road;
  • Modify road signage to direct more traffic to the town centre car parks, and through traffic to use the A30;
  • Modify Western Promenade to provide enhanced crossing facilities and to change the environment to encourage traffic to avoid the town centre when travelling across Penzance;
  • Formalise the parking on Alexandra Road to maximise parking availability while maintaining a good flow of traffic associated with the directional signage changes to Penzance which will see an increased use of Alexandra Road.

Depending on the results of the statutory consultation, the aim is for work on delivering this phase to begin in April 2021, and to be completed by June 2021.

This phase will be part funded through some of the money awarded to Cornwall Council from the Government’s Active Travel Fund, with the remainder of the funding being sought from the Town Deal.

Formal statutory consultation on the proposals will begin on Thursday, 25 February and will run until Thursday, 25 March 2021.

A Healthy Streets PZ page has been set up on the Let’s Talk Cornwall platform so people can share their thoughts about the proposals. This includes  a short survey with a series of questions to enable people to give their views on transport in Penzance. The survey can be accessed here https://letstalk.cornwall.gov.uk/healthy-streets-penzance

Detailed information is also available on the Love Penzance website : https://lovepenzance.co.uk/pz-healthy-streets/  and the Penzance Council and Cornwall Council websites.

If you wish to formally respond to the statutory consultation you can email comments to Cornwall Council’s highways team at traffic@cormacltd.co.uk or write to Highways Team, Scorrier Depot, Radnor Road, Scorrier TR16 5EH.

You can also use the transport contact form on the Love Penzance website.

The project team are specifically contacting disabled groups to make sure they’re distributing information to their members. These include Disability Cornwall, iSight Cornwall, Hearing Loss Cornwall, and also carers groups. People with disabilities can also send their comments through to the above email and postal address.

The first phase, introduced at the beginning of September 2020, focused on creating a cycle and pedestrian friendly area in the town centre.

The proposals introduced a trial traffic management scheme managed through the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) process to restrict traffic through traffic in Market Jew Street between 11am and 4pm, seven day per week, together with modified waiting and loading bays for use outside of these time periods, and modifications to the Branwells Mill gyratory system.

While feedback from the first phase of the trial to date suggests that there is a lot of support from the local community to create a better environment for everyone in the town centre, some concerns have been raised over access to Market Jew Street for disabled people, and lack of enforcement of restriction.

The project team are continuing to work with Cornwall Council’s parking team to enforce the 11 am to 4pm restrictions in Market Jew Street. Penalty charge notices have continued to be issued to drivers who breach the waiting and loading restrictions in the town centre.

As previously explained this is a trial scheme.  Installing physical restrictions at this stage would have been costly and taken time to construct and monitoring of the scheme might mean changes in the coming months. It was therefore agreed to wait for the results of the trial to be assessed before any permanent measures are put in place. In the meantime work is continuing to investigate measures which could be introduced once a decision is made on a permanent scheme.  Potential options include using number plate recognition enforcement cameras and / or the use of rising bollards to prevent unauthorised vehicle access to Market Jew Street. 

 The project team have made some reasonable adjustments to the initial scheme design and subsequent changes to the scheme following comments from disabled user groups and individuals. These include further ‘blue badge’ parking spaces designated within the Clarence Street car park and an access ramp.

The BID are also finalising plans to provide a shop mobility scheme.

Work is continuing to monitor phase one and feedback on the scheme, and the team are working with representatives of disabled organisations to better understand ongoing concerns and identify any further changes that can be implemented.

If the Phase 2 projects operate successfully, the team will then seek to deliver the third phase of the scheme which focuses on reducing traffic flow along the promenade to create a safer and more attractive place for people to spend time.

This contributes to the wider ambition to restore the prom to its former glory and as a key asset for the town.

As this final phase is not expected to be implemented until the Autumn, the designs are still at a very early stage.  Further information will be provided about the proposals as they are developed.