A scheme to transform the traffic infrastructure in Penzance has come under fire. The Healthy Streets PZ scheme was developed last year by a partnership which includes Penzance Council, Penzance Business Improvement District (BID), Sustainable Penzance and Cornwall Council.
The aim of the scheme is to reduce traffic and pollution levels in the town centre and create a better environment for all, allowing space for people to move around safely and comfortably. The scheme is also part of the wider ambition to promote sustainable transport and tackle climate change , and make Penzance a thriving place for the future.
Plans have now been developed for the second phase of the scheme which involves providing additional pedestrian crossings on Western Promenade Road and extending the 20mph speed limit. It folllows the controversial first phase which has involved banning traffic from the main town centre – Market Jew Street.
The specific proposals are to introduce a 20mph speed limit in Penzance town centre and the residential areas up to and including Alexandra Road; modify road signage to direct more traffic to the town centre car parks, and through traffic to use the A30; modify Western Promenade Road to provide enhanced crossing facilities and to change the environment to encourage traffic to avoid the town centre when travelling across Penzance and formalise the parking on Alexandra Road to maximise parking availability while maintaining a good flow of traffic associated with the directional signage changes to Penzance which will see an increased use of Alexandra Road.
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You can read the plans in full here.
However, there are fears that the plans will punish residents who live and work in the town.
It comes after the first phase of the scheme was criticized for not being enforced properly as drivers ignored signs saying not to enter the semi-pedestrianised area.
Town councillor Nigel Waller said: “The plans will result in massive traffic tailbacks in and out of Penzance and Newlyn.
“It will also result in massively increased health and safety issues on the route up Alexandra Road and past St Clare as well as other routes in and out of Newlyn.”
He said it would “increase pollution” past Penwith College and the number of school children exposed to traffic jams and fumes would be on an “unprecedented scale”.
He said: “Altering or attempting to channel the route of traffic into Penzance and Newlyn from the Heamoor roundabout is not the best way to try to sell the town to first-time visitors who will be put off by the whole chaos of the situation.”
He also said it would cause “major inconvenience” and “loss of business” to many hotels and guest houses and other businesses in the town once the parking proposals are put in place.
He said: “This is major concern to many businesses especially in the harbour area and Alexandra Road. If I had a guest house there I think I would be wanting to sell it now.”
He added: “I think the killer blow for Penzance is going to be the proposed phase three and the introduction of a one-way system, probably to include promenade road.”
Cllr Waller has asked Cornwall Council’s roads contractor Cormac to extend the consultation time and speak to people who “live and work in Penzance” to avoid a “civil war”.
He said: “Yes we all support having less traffic congestion and pollution by this scheme will not work and if there is any attempt to implement it at this very sensitive time it could cost Penzance dearly.”
A resident of Alexandra Road said: “This plan just moves the problems to other areas and pushes those who use the town centre into the council car parks instead of parking and walking on the edges of town, which is no doubt very popular for revenue.”
She added: “Rather than get caught up in Alexandra Road traffic I know most locals will probably drive up The Lidden and through Alverton Estate to get to the A30, bringing pollution and more danger to the people and children who live and go to school there.
“Or they will carry on using the Western Promenade Road and have to cross an endless stream of traffic coming down Alexandra Road causing congestion and tailbacks.”
Lizzie Bawden Jilbert wrote: “What about parking for the guest houses in Alexandra Road? Where are they going to park?
“Not everyone wants to catch public transport due to the virus, I certainly don’t.”
Julian Tredinnick wrote: “It really does seem like they are trying to stop people visiting Penzance to shop at any cost.
“The bottle-necks from the bizarre bollards by Branwell’s Mill are causing issues and near accidents already.
“And if they are reducing the prom traffic why do you need extra crossings?
“Looks like an amazing way to spend a whole lot of money and pay Cormac a fortune, while blocking all the backroads up which people live on.
“I’m not sure what the ‘best solution’ is or if we actually need a solution.
“I like the idea of the 20mph zone but who will police it?
“We are a coastal town, how much benefit for our health compared to the cost and disruption to our high street and residents will this really bring?
“It almost seems a way to turn the whole of Penzance into a residential zone, ditch the high street and build housing on any and every space and in every empty building.
“Penzance is going to end up the Eastbourne of the South West at this rate.”
Nigel Richards wrote: “These proposals do not consider disabled access adequately or OAPs, who will be unable to park remotely near the promenade to use it, due to limited parking.
“Why spend millions of pounds refurbishing the prom and then make it less accessible to local rate paying residents?
“If this plan is implemented it will gain the same popularity as St Ives which is becoming a no go area to local residents and visitors alike due to the loss of parking and yellow lines everywhere.”
This second phase of the scheme will be part funded through a share of the money awarded to Cornwall Council from the Government’s Active Travel Fund, with the remainder of the funding being sought from the Town Deal.
Jessica Colliver, Penzance BID manager, said: “We want to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to view and comment on these proposals.
“As well as the statutory consultation we have created a Healthy Streets PZ section on the Let’s Talk Cornwall platform to include residents and visitors in discussion about future transport proposals.”
Rachel Yates, from Sustainable Penzance, added: “By improving walking and cycling facilities across Penzance and promoting more sustainable forms of transport which are accessible to all, the Healthy Streets scheme reflects the views expressed by local residents during the Penzance Expo and Neighbourhood Plan consultation.
“This second phase is a key part of the overall scheme and we want to ensure that as many people as possible take this opportunity to have their say on the future transport plans for our town.”
The team behind Healthy Streets PZ has been contacted for comment.
Formal statutory consultation on the proposals will run until Thursday (March 25).
Depending on the results of the statutory consultation, the current aim is for work on delivering this phase to begin in April 2021.
If you wish to formally respond to the statutory consultation you can email comments to Cornwall Council’s highways team at email@example.com or write to Highways Team, Scorrier Depot, Radnor Road, Scorrier, TR16 5EH.
Details have also been published on the new Healthy Streets PZ pages on the Let’s Talk Cornwall platform so people can share their views and feedback on the proposals.