Traders in Tonbridge support trial pedestrianisation idea
By Tonbridge Courier | Tuesday, September 25, 2012, 08:00
TRADERS in Tonbridge are strongly in favour of pedestrianising the High Street for a trial period on Sundays, according to a new survey.
June 15, 2012
July 28, 2011
FLASHBACK: How the Courier has reported plans to tackle traffic problems
And of 62 shopkeepers who gave their views on what could be the best way to improve trade and traffic flow in the High Street, half supported closing the road permanently to cars, buses and deliveries.
One popular option – with 62 per cent – was to shut the busy road on Sundays between Avebury Avenue and Bradford Street, with the aim of holding markets and other activities to encourage shoppers to the town.
The poll was carried out by pedestrianisation campaign group Pedestrian Action for Tonbridge High Street (Paths).
Co-founder Howard Porter was optimistic about the result.
He said: "I thought there was more support from traders than expected.
"Traders are more reluctant to change things if business is at stake, especially in these difficult times, so it's necessary to investigate a range of options to give the best outcome for Tonbridge. This has to be done in a gradual way.
"Traders have come out in favour of Sunday closure which I think is a good start. We need to think of events to bring people into town, which is where the Town Team could come in."
The team, of politicians, residents and businesspeople, aims to improve the town centre.
While a Sunday road closure won support from traders, a larger majority wanted to give it a try first. The poll found that 84 per cent were in favour of a trial period.
Mr Porter said this was crucial to establish which option would work best for the town, adding: "We won't go into this blindly."
Paths is pushing the council to support full pedestrianisation, which would involve diverting traffic, including buses and deliveries, around the back of Sainsbury's and Waitrose to rejoin via Medway Wharf Road.
Introducing a 20mph speed limit was supported by 50 per cent of the traders, but a "shared space" option, similar to the situation in Ashford where traffic and pedestrians have equal right of way, was the least popular suggestion with 24 per cent.
Young Paths supporters – Hugh Pfeil, 20, Alfie van den Bos, 19, Lea West, 19, and Helen Long, 24 – distributed and collected the questionnaires last month.
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council spokeswoman Debi Rice said: "The prospect of an occasional closure of part of the High Street is being considered by the Town Team as part of initiatives to build on the events programme and activities that are hosted in the town centre by the council and its partners.
"Of course, such a closure to accommodate a market or other event would need the careful consideration, consultation and approval by the county council as highways authority."