Cheltenham Borough Council
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Agenda item

Cheltenham Transport Plan

Report of the Cabinet Member Development and Safety

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member Development and Safety introduced the report, he explained that as the Council had recently declared a climate emergency a number of changes needed to be implemented in order to meet the target. The management of traffic flow and the reduction of vehicle emissions being one of the main ones within the council’s remit. Whilst the Cheltenham Transport Plan (CTP) predated the more modern concerns surrounding climate change, he felt that it was timely and an opportunity to address environmental issues. 

The phased implementation of the CTP to date had seen positive changes across Cheltenham, including making Albion Street and Oriel Place two-way as well as the re-configuration of Royal Well Road. He highlighted that it was a CBC promoted scheme and GCC were acting as the agent. 

He confirmed that Phase 4 of the plan had seen a reduction in traffic around Boots Corner by 85% and had only had a limited impact on the highways network as a whole. The main roads affected as evidence at section 3.6 of the report were being reviewed and options considered to address the increases in traffic flow. Pedestrian footfall around Boots Corner had increased by 130%, and there was a 140% increase in the number of wheelchair/mobility scooter users in the area. Similarly, there had been a 4% increase in bus usage compared with a national average decrease.

He acknowledged that the number of vacant shop units was at 8%, which was invariably higher than they would like, however, this was still below the national average of 12%. He highlighted that that the retail market was under significant pressure due to a range of changing economic factors and that a number of retailers who had opted to withdraw from other towns had chosen to remain in Cheltenham. Knight Frank had also ranked Cheltenham town centre 9 out of 200 nationally in terms of investment.

He felt that overall the trial had been a success as could be evidenced by a range of indicators including the increased connectivity, decreased car usage, the major boost to the economy of the town centre and Brewery Quarter as well as the improved environmental standards in the town centre in terms of air quality.  The GGC report set out detailed information regarding traffic monitoring and highlighted any areas of concern and proposed mitigation measures. The alternative to making the scheme permanent would be to allow 10,000 cars back through the town centre everyday. He reasoned that the majority of these were not shopping in the centre but using it to get across town.

Following questions from Members, the Cabinet Member confirmed that GCC, as the transport authority, were responsible for gathering the date regrading traffic flows. All the monitoring work that had been undertaken had been checked and verified to ensure it was accurate. The only data that was collected by CBC was the air quality data as stipulated by DEFRA.

Cabinet Members reasoned that the thought of having an additional 10,000 cars back through the town centre each day now seemed unfathomable. They stressed that doing nothing was not an option and that other towns such as Bath and Bristol were also taking measures to reduce traffic through the town centre.  They acknowledged that improvements still needed to be made but felt that the proposals would be beneficial for future generations. They noted that the retail market was generally struggling nationally and globally and that footfall figures around Boots Corner had actually increased considerably. Cabinet Members highlighted that the scheme had been funded by the sustainable transport fund in order to create modal shift and tackle climate change. They further noted that Sat Nav could not be amended unless the scheme was made permanent and so there was a necessity to make a decision as soon as possible.

 

RESOLVED THAT:

 

1.      In light of the economic and other evidence, and based upon GCC traffic flow data, CBC air quality data, and wider considerations, the GCC Traffic Regulation Order Committee (TRO) and GCC Cabinet be urged to make the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (phase 4) of the Cheltenham Transport Plan permanent;

 

2.      The Managing Director Place & Growth be authorised to write to GCC and the TRO committee to make CBC’s position clear.

 

 

Supporting documents: