Lancashire County Council has responded to concerns about the impact of closing part of Corporation Street to traffic other than buses, taxis and cycles.Advertisement
The plans form part of the Transforming Friargate North and Ringway scheme, a £14.7m revamp paid for by the Transforming Cities Fund that’s aimed at encouraging bus, rail and active travel.
Some residents say the change will make it harder for people to access the city centre while damaging businesses located there and creating more traffic in other areas.
One such local, Jeremy Rowland, who runs Meat and Drink, the owners of various Preston establishments including Plau in Friargate, said: “The Friargate aspect of the Friargate North and Ringway scheme is fine and indeed most welcome. On the whole there is much to like about this scheme.
“However we think the bus gate is a terrible idea and cuts the whole of the western and northern parts of Preston off from accessing the Railway Station and city centre. Corporation Street isn’t a rat run, but a main arterial route to town and vital to many people.
“This move will further damage the city centre and its many businesses for little gain to the built environment. Inevitably this will lead to much more standing traffic.”
In response, Lancashire County Council has provided more detail on the plan and sought to clarify the reasons for the change.
A spokesperson for the Council said: “The Central Lancashire Highways and Transport Masterplan, adopted in 2014, and later further developed by Preston City’s Masterplan and UCLan’s Masterplan, aimed to reduce through traffic in the city centre to create a vibrant public realm and university campus in the centre of the city. To do this, it was necessary to redirect the traffic travelling through the university centre along alternative existing arterial routes.
“To help achieve this, the signage around the city was altered, with the direction signs guiding traffic to use the arterial routes to the east (Water Lane and Strand Road) and to the west (Aqueduct Street and North Road) of the area to access the city centre, with only university traffic being guided to use the route through the campus (Fylde Road).
“The Transforming Friargate North and Ringway scheme seeks to further build on these improvements by providing better access to the city centre for public transport users, cyclists and pedestrians. We are trying to provide a clearer through route for buses along Fylde Road and Corporation Street to Ringway, and vice versa.
“We propose to introduce a Fishergate-style ‘bus gate’ on Corporation Street, north of Ringway between Marsh Lane and Heatley Street, which uses cameras to enforce an exclusion of traffic except for buses, hackney carriages and cycles, as well as authorised vehicles such as refuse collections etc.
“We are creating new bus stops on Corporation Street to replace those lost by the pedestrianisation of Friargate, as well as a new centrally located bus stop on Ringway immediately next to Friargate, with new pedestrian and cycle crossings to help everyone access the city centre.
“Traffic will still be able to access the university campus and the car parks around the Friargate shopping area, but discouraged by the bus gate from using this as a through route, making the campus area safer for pedestrians, students and residents. The bus gate and other restriction orders will be individually consulted on before being introduced.
“Cars displaced by the proposed bus gate will be directed, as before, to use the east and west of the university campus area to access Ringway. From there, they will be able to travel up Corporation Street (south of Ringway) to access the railway station and Fishergate Shopping Centre, or Fleet Street and Lune Street to access the St George’s Shopping Centre car park, as they do now.
“Those who currently use the disabled parking at the Mobility Centre will now enter and leave from Lune Street, as there will be no vehicular access from Friargate to make that area safer for pedestrians.
“The recent roadworks for the UCLan improvements have already displaced a lot of the traffic that previously used this through route, and the upcoming improvement works on Corporation Street North will prevent that traffic returning.
“In order to support these measures to redirect traffic, we are planning to carry out improvements to the traffic signal systems on Strand Road and North Road to improve journey times along those routes.”
Read more: Corporation Street roadworks and closures planned as part of Ringway scheme
In response to specific concerns about the impact on residents in Ashton Street and Wellfield Road, the spokesperson said: “In the modelling done to support these changes to the network, it was highlighted that there was the possibility of traffic ‘rat running’ along Ashton Road, Wellfield Drive and Leighton Street.
“In order to discourage that from happening we are proposing to introduce traffic calming measures along both Ashton Road and Wellfield Drive to make them less attractive for through traffic, and to ensure lower vehicle speeds for residents.
“We are also proposing to introduce a short section of one-way northbound on Leighton Street over the bridge to prevent ‘rat running’, whilst reopening access along Maudland Bank so residents can access Fylde Road and from there Strand Road.
“All of these measures will be consulted on before being introduced, and the routes would be monitored for increases in traffic flow with additional measures considered if this is not effective.
“All of the changes we are proposing, as with any improvements, rely on car users changing their behaviour and using the routes we are directing them to, in order to provide a range of advantages to people who work and live in the Preston City Region.”
More information can be found on the Lancashire County Council website, while a map of the changes can be seen in the Corporation Street concept design.
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What do you think of the Council’s explanation for the bus gate? Let us know in the comments.