UDC’s proposals to remove street parking in Saffron Walden

Uttlesford District Council wants to remove street parking from a number of roads in Saffron Walden.  These are part of UDC’s much criticised highways proposals for Saffron Walden to allow more building on the east of town.

The proposals were in public consultation until 19th February 2016 by their joint quango, the North Essex Parking Partnership (NEPP). Now that public consultation has closed, NEPP say that it will take a few months to determine if the scheme moves forward or not.

Residents who wish to talk to the NEPP about the proposals can do so via email using the link below:

Include your name and address, and reference:
TRO5523/(Amendment No. 40) Order 201* – Public Consultation

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If you or your friends and neighbours are concerned and want to keep updated, ask them to contact us and we’ll add you and them to our WeAreResidents.org email list.

The Proposals at a Glance

Borough Lane/Mount Pleasant Rd/Peaslands Rd

They are seeking to remove street parking:

  • From 8AM-6PM from the bottom of Borough Lane, along Mount Pleasant and Peaslands Roads to Thaxted Rd (1.3km);
  • At all times from certain stretches of the same roads.

Here is what the impact will be:

  • If you currently park on these roads, you will be unable to;
  • Visitors, trades and delivery trucks will be unable to park on these roads;
  • Side streets will see displaced cars and vans parked on them;
  • There will be less parking for the RAB/St Thomas More school pick-up, causing more tension on South Rd, West Rd, Victoria Ave, Longhedges. This is not the fault of the people parking there; it is poor planning

Ashdon Road

They are seeking to remove street parking:

  • Between Highfields to Hollyhock Rd (loss of approx. 12 places);
  • Opposite Dame Bradbury’s School (loss of approx. 18 places);

This reduces the on-street parking places by about 50%. Additionally:

  • Hollyhock Rd to the Axe: Restrictions on the side cars don’t park anyway;
  • Some further restrictions that only allow parking at night by Dame B’s;
  • No proposals for additional pull-ins between the Axe and Hollyhock Rd.

Here is what the impact is likely to be:

  • If you park on Ashdon Rd, you will find it harder to get a spot;
  • Visitors, trades and delivery trucks will be unable to park on these roads;
  • Side streets such as Hollyhock Rd, Shepherds Way, Harvey Way and Elisabeth Way will see displaced cars and vans parked on them. This is not the fault of the people parking there; it is poor planning.

Analysis of the Proposals

ECC’s maps show the proposed changes from the bottom of Borough Lane to Thaxted Rd, and Ashdon Rd. All the mark-ups on the maps are the changes – they don’t show any existing parking restrictions. There is a list that details each change line-by-line in the document pack link above. Click on the maps to get a bigger picture.

Here is what WeAreResidents.org believes as some of the key concerns with the proposals:

      1. Loss of on-street parking: The south of the town is highly residential. The 1.2km stretch of road has parking capacity for approximately 80 cars. There are a number of flats and homes that have limited opportunities for off-street parking, including those in the Conservation Area that and those that are historically listed. Traffic Signals were installed at the Debden Rd/Borough Lane junction in 2014. This removed the last on-street parking for a number of residents, whose only parking opportunity is some distance away Mount Pleasant or Mandeville Roads. Allowing parking in the evenings doesn’t solve the problem as some families work in the town and need to leave their cars parked on the street near their homes during the day. The proposed restrictions would remove that last opportunity and provide no alternative car park or measures that mitigate the removal of such a large block of parking.
      2. Worsened Speed and road safety: Peaslands/Mount Pleasant/Borough Lane is the primary walking route for students in the south of the town to access the Saffron Walden County High, Friends, St Thomas More and the R.A. Butler schools. Hundreds of unaccompanied children use the pavements every school day. Today parked cars both calm traffic and provide a safety buffer that protects children. As has been seen when the parking was removed and traffic signals installed on the adjacent Debden Rd, traffic speeds increased up to 40-50 mph and drivers accelerate more when they see a green light in the distance. The proposals will make the pavements less safe and there are no mitigating measures to slow and calm traffic.
      3. Loss of Primary School access for parents: The R. A. Butler and St Thomas More schools on South Rd have wide catchment areas and many parents drop off and pick up their children by car. Successive restrictions on South and West Roads mean that the only place for many parents to park with capacity is on Mount Pleasant and Peaslands Roads; these roads are wide and there is sufficient of parking. The new proposed daytime parking-ban on Mount Pleasant and Peaslands Road will prevent parents from parking in the last possible place they can. The proposals provide no replacement parking for parents to park whilst they pick up children from the school gates.
      4. Friends School parking not resolved: The Friends School is a commercial business and it rents out its playing fields to local clubs on the weekends. Mount Pleasant Rd is often the busiest on Saturday and Sunday mornings when these clubs use the school. The proposals fail to address this issue.
      5. Ashdon Road changes makes no sense: The majority of the proposals for Ashdon Rd are valueless as they place parking restrictions on the south side of the road, where cars don’t actually park today; and they remove the ability for about 30 residents’ cars to park in the evening, even though there are no traffic problems at that time of day. It is difficult to improve traffic flow on Ashdon Rd because there is very limited parking on Mill Lane and many Ashdon Rd properties have little opportunity for off-street parking. ECC were unable to come up with solutions for alternative parking when they proposed parking restrictions in 2014.
      6. The wrong priorities for the Town: The Saffron Walden Town Council undertook a large survey of the town with vehicular, cycle and pedestrian road users in 2015. This identified over 70 needed minor improvements to the town’s road system, which have been prioritised by the public that use the roads themselves. Apart from an additional pulling-in place on Peaslands Rd, none of these proposed changes were identified as major problem areas by residents. And meaningful improvements to Ashdon Rd have been completely ignored. The Town’s priorities should have been the driving force for any proposing improvements to the road system. It is unclear why they have been ignored.
      7. Minor proposals have merit: A short formal pulling-in place for traffic to pass on Peaslands Rd looks like it has merit as do the restrictions in the immediate vicinity of the Winstanley/Peaslands Rd junction. It is in the top-10 locations for incidents in the town. Little else of the proposals seem to offer sufficient benefit over the loss of parking amenity and reduction in safety. And parking should be made available elsewhere for those that have been displaced.

Not justified

The stated reasons don’t stack up to the size and scale of the changes, appear weak, and do not to reference any supporting evidence for their justification, including:

      • Do they allow existing traffic to flow more freely? There is no evidence to show that a wholesale removal of daytime parking from a contiguous 1.2km of these roads would significantly improve traffic flow. There is slight queuing traffic at the lights at peak times only, but that is caused by the lights themselves and not bottlenecks elsewhere. In certain places vehicles need to pause in gaps to let oncoming traffic pass, but these are only for short periods of the day and are much less than in other areas of the town which surely should be the priority first.
      • Do they improve safety? Whilst the Winstanley Rd/Bromfield accident record warrants some improvements to junction visibility, none of the other locations have had any reported significant incidents since 1995, apart from the Debden Rd lights which were signalised in 2014 to improve them.
      • Do they encourage the free flow of Large and Emergency Vehicles: There is no evidence that these vehicles are being impeded today, and 1.7km of parking removal is overkill for the limited number of large vehicle and emergency vehicle traffic that needs to go east-west.
      • Do they really improve residents parking: Bizarrely NEPP claim that removing on-parking will improve parking for residents. We’re scratching our heads to see how removing parking and not providing an alternative actually improves parking.

Whilst the proposals remove parking, increase speed and reduce safety, the overall positive benefits are unclear and not defensible. In fact there is limited justification to spend taxpayers’ money when there is little upside and lots of downside, especially when there are a number of other more pressing highways priorities that have been identified for any investment first.

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Feature: Local Plan Sites


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