Go ahead anticipated for Queen Street plans
PLANS to improve Queen Street in Newton Abbot for pedestrians are expected to go ahead, despite some opposition.
Teignbridge district councillors agreed to the ‘public realm enhancements’ between Courtenay Street and The Avenue following a recent public consultation.
It includes widened footways, improved crossings, more greening and seating, and extra provision for buses and bicycles.
However, the project comes at the expense of just over half of the on-street parking in the area, as well as some new traffic restrictions and changes to loading.
Most of the estimated £1 million cost will come from the government’s Future High Streets fund, but Devon County Council’s ruling cabinet will now be asked to sign off on a £200,000 contribution.
Teignbridge District Council will put £80,000 towards the project.
A report presented to a highways meeting on Monday explained that despite Queen Street having “an extensive number” of shops, independent businesses and services, the road is currently “dominated by motorised vehicles with a significant amount of space allocated to through traffic and on-street parking, particularly west of The Avenue.
The report said: ‘This arrangement means that footways are narrow in places and the street, and its side roads, can be difficult to cross.
‘Overall, there is limited space and facilities for pedestrians who are the dominant users of the town centre shopping area.
‘There is a real need for intervention to tackle these problems and create a better urban environment for people visiting Newton Abbot town centre and to help reduce carbon emissions in response to the climate emergency.’
The changes will mean wider footways, particularly at the western end of Queen Street, between Courtenay Street and Albany Street.
The southern footways will also be widened between Albany Street and the existing zebra crossing.
In addition, new crossings will make junctions safer and easier to cross, including ‘raised table’ side crossings (meaning the crossings are the same height as pavements) and a new zebra crossing west of the War Memorial.
There will also be new tree planting, flower poles, benches and cycle parking, while the existing bus stop outside the Catholic Church will be enhanced to create a bus layby.
To deliver the changes, 55 per cent of on-street parking will be removed including all the spaces between Courtenay Street and Albany Street. However, on-street disabled parking will increase overall within the scheme area.
To reduce traffic, it is planned to restrict access on Queen Street west of Albany Street to certain vehicles, as well as banning access for motor vehicles between King Street and Queen Street.
Hopkins Lane will be made one-way northbound.
New rules for loading will also be brought in, while a new 20 mph speed limit is proposed between The Avenue and Courtenay Street.
A public consultation on the plan, carried out in May and June, found general support for the pedestrian enhancements and 20 mph limit, but opposition to removal of on-street parking.
Business responses were low, with only around a quarter giving their views. Of these, the majority are against the scheme.
Cllr Mike Hocking (Indepdenent, Bradley ward) was unimpressed, claiming the public feedback was “rather neutral”.
He said: ‘It is quite clear from what is being said within the questionnaires that people are happy with some things, not happy with the other things.
‘They’re certainly not happy with losing parking.
‘I’d be very worried about agreeing to something and putting traffic orders and a plan in place when it didn’t have the full support – or at least the majority of support – from the people that live, use and work in Newton Abbot.’
Owner of Austins department store, David Austin, objected, according to a letter read out by Cllr Janet Bradford (South Devon Alliance, College).
He was quoted as saying the loss of parking would be detrimental to the town’s economy and ‘endanger the livelihoods of retailers’.
But Cllr Phil Bullivant (Conservative, Newton Abbot North) said: ‘The overall picture for Newton Abbot currently is one which requires investment.
‘It requires work to improve the town. It requires things to make it an attractive, welcoming town at the heart of Teignbridge.’
The committee approved the plan by a margin of ten to one.
It is hoped the county council’s cabinet will give the final go-ahead before Christmas.
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