Green Street staggered parking

As the changes to the layout of parking in Green Street take place, the Chairman of the Community Travel Plan Steering Group, Revd Preb Paul Towner, has written to address some of the issues that have arisen. What follows is his personal view.

"Over the months I have discussed these issues with many local people; with the CA executive and others engaging in local issues; with the school and with other local stakeholders. It must be understood that all decisions about Highways rest with Herefordshire Council. They have responsibility for all things such as road design, road signs, roadside parking, one-way schemes, and road crossings (such as the one now in St Owen Street). Local community groups can only act as a stimulant and as a corrective, and we have sought to do both.

The Council, of course, acts in “consultation” with local residents, but as we discovered over the needless replacing of kerbs in Grove Road and Grenfell Road, only in a very patchy manner. One of our campaigns throughout the local Travel Plan initiative has been for greater transparency and wider engagement. But having “consulted” the decision is still the Council’s.

One of the strongest points of agreement throughout the local community here is the desire for slower speeds on our roads. Whatever surveys have taken place, or public meetings been held, that view has always come to the fore. The Steering Group have always acted with that informed desire in mind, and we will continue to do so. There will of course be a wide variety of opinions about how that desire might be met, and of course we have aired speed humps, road plugs, one-way streets, mandatory speed limits and many more of the options.

Against the background of these desires, and those discussions, outline agreement to the concept of staggered parking has been reached. We have tried to engage with the whole community in this process, and specifically with the dairy, because of their business needs. Having got outline agreement, the traffic engineers have then been tasked with converting the agreed desire into lines on the ground, and as you will know that has now been through several revisions. I am confident that the scheme due to be published meets the two agreed desires 1) to introduce a chicane effect along Green Street to help reduce traffic speeds and 2) to do that without losing parking spaces.

I have now counted, measured and reviewed and I think that, along the whole length of Green Street, something in the order of 5 or 6 spaces will be gained under the published scheme. I work that out as follows: losses of about 4 spaces in the transfer from west to east in the Grove Road / Grenfell Road section; 1 space on the corner of Park Street / Green Street; gains of about 6 spaces going north from Springfield Terrace, and another 5 spaces alongside my boundary, south of Park Street.

In drawing up the scheme you will realise that there has to be a judgment made between the overall need and individual cases of difficultly. In the scheme as it operates at present (before any changes) I know that there are thought to be both “winners” and “losers”, and I realise that in the proposed changes there will again be that perception. Some people may no longer be able to park directly outside their front door; others will gain that possibility; some will consider that a gain; others may consider cars parking closer to their property a loss! [A personal note here – there will be, as a result of the changes, more noise outside my property, with five spaces being placed alongside my boundary hedge. I am happy to think that that change is for the good of the whole community, and therefore I will learn to live with it!]

In the end I am glad that it is the Council which takes that final decision, because I would not want to be burdened with the responsibility of judging between those different perceptions of winners and losers.

Finally I want to comment on the hard work undertaken by community members. I think we are fortunate to have so many dedicated and committed volunteers giving time, energy and talent to the well-being of the whole. School governors, trustees of local charities, neighbourhood watch schemes, website design and maintenance, distribution of community newsletter, engagement with travel issues, revitalising Castle Green – that is just a short list of what is contributed freely by local residents. It would be a tragedy if all their efforts were to be met with discouragement and opposition. I expect there to be differences of opinion, and I trust that we can always find ways of airing views, and agreeing to disagree.

This scheme in Green Street is understood to be a pilot scheme, - that could be reproduced elsewhere in this area, or indeed elsewhere in the county, but before that happens there will need to be feedback from residents affected. If this staggered parking scheme fails to deliver, then you will be entitled to say “I told you so!” I personally believe that many will say that it has been a positive change. Whatever our feelings, I do believe that it deserves a fair chance."

Posted: Thu - May 25, 2006 at 11:14 AM