Car-free shopping streets could be Sidmouth’s future
PUBLISHED: 08:00 18 September 2020
The part-pedestrianisation of Sidmouth town centre could become a long-term fixture if residents, businesses and visitors support the idea.
The town council wants to see the existing road closures extended until the end of this year, with a view to introducing a more permanent scheme in 2021.
The temporary traffic management was introduced in July as a Covid-19 precaution to enable pavements to be widened so that pedestrians could observe the two-metre social distancing rule.
The chairman of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, David Cook, told the tourism and economy committee it had resulted in a much busier shopping area, while still allowing traffic to flow through the town.
He said this scheme had proved far more successful than those in other towns - although some businesses had experienced problems with receiving deliveries.
Councillors agreed that feedback from residents had been positive, and the reduced traffic had created a safer environment.
They said they would like to examine more permanent arrangements in the future, which could also go further to reduce traffic.
Cllr Stuart Hughes suggested that there may be government funding available for this project.
The meeting, held on Monday, September 14, resolved that the county council would be asked to extend the temporary traffic orders until the end of the year, with discussions to be held on a more permanent arrangement to be drawn up for the 2021 summer season.
Councillors agreed that during this extended period, residents, visitors, customers and businesses will be asked for their views on the temporary arrangements, to help with drawing up a possible future permanent scheme.
The town council’s chairman Ian Barlow has always strongly supported the part-pedestrianisation and is keen to see it continue.
He said at the time that it was one very positive element to come out of Covid-19 and would give the opportunity to ‘get more atmosphere going in the town’, complementing the attractions of the seafront area.
Speaking after the meeting, he said: “The traders are very happy. There was a lot of fear before, but even people who thought it was going to be disastrous to them have benefited hugely from it.”
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