Residents are being asked for their views on Bath & North East Somerset Council’s ambitious proposals for liveable neighbourhoods which will improve air quality and health, encourage more walking and cycling and reduce vehicles in residential areas.
Liveable neighbourhoods are an important part of the council’s plan to tackle the climate and ecological emergency and to improve health and wellbeing across the area.
It has developed three strategies which it now wants people’s views on. The three strategies would form the basis for liveable neighbourhoods. They are:
- Low traffic neighbourhood strategy
- Residents’ parking schemes strategy
- On-street electric vehicle charging strategy
Residents are now being asked what they think about the plans in an on-line consultation that will run until Wednesday 14 October.
Liveable neighbourhoods aim to reduce the dominance of vehicles in residential areas – particularly through-traffic – while maintaining vehicle access to homes and businesses and prioritising residential parking. This can be done through a range of measures including vehicle restrictions, traffic calming and one-way streets.
Councillor Joanna Wright, joint Cabinet Member for Transport Services said: “We saw during lockdown what a difference less traffic made to our communities. We saw air quality improve, we saw more people walking and cycling, and we saw more people supporting local shops.
“This proposal for liveable neighbourhoods supports our vision to create better conditions for walking and cycling so that people rely less on their cars, especially for short car journeys. This is particularly important if we’re to meet our climate emergency targets by 2030.
“By re-considering how road space is used, improving access to public transport and enhancing community spaces, we can create lively residential areas that foster community pride and help local businesses to prosper.
“We recognise that private cars are still necessary for some trips and some users. For this reason, alongside our liveable neighbourhoods strategy we’ve outlined plans for improving on-street electric vehicle charging that will encourage the uptake of electric vehicles where there is limited off-street parking, and where public charge points are required for residents wishing to swap to cleaner, ultra-low emission vehicles
“These are transformational proposals that will be developed in collaboration with local communities, so it’s really important that residents and local businesses have their say on the approaches we’ve set out.”
Liveable neighbourhoods usually group residential streets together across a 1km2 area around key amenities, such as schools, shops and surgeries, and bordered by a main road. To reduce through traffic and rat-running, a range of vehicle restrictions can be used. This ranges from modal filters such as bollards and attractive planters to one-way streets, traffic calming, speed restrictions and also residents parking schemes to reduce commuter parking.
Residents will have already seen changes to some city and town centre roads. Access restrictions and barriers were installed to encourage social distancing to deal with the immediate impact of Covid-19.
They were funded from the Government’s £250 million Emergency Active Travel Fund which was announced in May. Councils were then encouraged to bid for a second ‘tranche’ of government funding to promote more walking and cycling and ease pressure on public transport.
In Bath & North East Somerset ten schemes have been identified for this potential funding. Given the timescales for preparing bids, they have not yet been subject to consultation and could be introduced as Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders.
Councillor Dine Romero, council leader, said: “We need to be clear about the difference in our long-term policy for liveable neighbourhoods and the schemes proposed under the Emergency Active Travel Fund which is a direct response to Covid-19. Our liveable neighbourhood strategy is asking for people’s views on the principles and policy and is not about promoting individual schemes, these will come later once the strategy is in place.”
There will be opportunities for communities to request individual liveable neighbourhoods once all three strategies are finalised and the project is launched.
Residents can read a summary of the council’s plans for liveable neighbourhoods and take part in an online survey before Wednesday 14 October at www.bathnes.gov.uk/liveableneighbourhoods.
Those with no internet access can request paper copies of the summary and survey by calling council connect on 01225 39 40 41. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, there will be no public events in this instance.