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Keynsham High Street one-way system should stay, says 53% majority

Keynsham High Street should keep its one-way system, according to more than half of the people who took part in a council survey.

The scheme has divided residents and visitors to the town, however, as the results of the public consultation revealed that while 53 per cent wanted to keep it, 39 per cent thought it should be scrapped.

Bath and North East Somerset Council said it received 1,559 responses to the consultation on the controversial scheme between January and March, one of the highest responses to any recent consultation across the district.

Those who backed the scheme said it should either continue as it is or with some improvements, with suggestions including complete pedestrianisation of the High Street, allowing traffic to continue from the High Street into Temple Street, taking steps to cut congestion and alterations to the junction at Rock Road and Temple Street and the turning into Tesco from Charlton Road.

According to its supporters the trial had made the High Street more pleasant, easier to cross, safer for pedestrians and had  improved air quality.

For those against the scheme, however, criticisms included longer journey times around the town, queues of traffic on Bath Hill, fears that air pollution was being displaced to other parts of the town and concerns at the impact on local businesses.

Responses from more than 100 businesses in the town centre revealed that 39 per cent reported a fall in monthly takings when compared to the same period before the trial, 11 per cent saw an increase and 37 per cent said they had stayed roughly the same.

Only three per cent felt the trial had had a positive impact on footfall, 49 per cent thought the effect was neutral and 48 per cent thought there had been a negative impact on footfall.

A report by council officers on the results of the business survey concluded: “In summary, this survey has identified little support for the Keynsham High Street one-way trial in its current configuration from the local business community. There have been a range of suggested improvements put forward by the surveyed business community to mitigate the perceived effects of the one-way system and it is recommended that these are considered in the future traffic system for  Keynsham High Street and its immediate vicinity.”

The trial was introduced in May last year in response to calls to reduce traffic on the High Street and improve the area for pedestrians.

Air quality data published as part of the consultation showed an improvement around the High Street, with levels of nitrogen dioxide below the national high risk level.

B&NES Council’s Cabinet members are due to make a decision this summer about the future of the High Street, and whether further investment will be sought for Keynsham town centre.

Councillor Mark Shelford, cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “We’d like to thank everyone who has given us their views on the High Street.  We’ll be studying the feedback we’ve received carefully and looking at the impact the trial has had on air quality, traffic, footfall and parking before making a decision on its future. 

“In the meantime we’ll continue to monitor air quality and pedestrian movement in and around the town.”

Councillor Paul Myers, cabinet member for economy, said: “Through the business survey, we have heard from retailers within Keynsham who are concerned about falling trade in the town centre. It’s important to listen to the business community and we recognise that high streets across the UK are suffering. 

“Improving the quality and environment in the town centre is necessary to maintain Keynsham as a destination in the long-term future and ensure that the town is positioned to adapt to changes in the way that people spend their time. Without cutting traffic through the High Street it will be difficult to bring in additional funding to improve the town centre environment."

The full results of the consultation are available online at www.bathnes.gov.uk/keynsham


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