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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

County's cabinet gives go-ahead to 2020 traffic scheme


* An artist's impression of how the completed scheme will look.

Denbighshire County Council's powerful cabinet has given the go-ahead to the £1.7 million plan to re-shape Llangollen town centre's road system.

Its unanimous approval subject to a number of important amendments at this morning’s webcast meeting was greeted as a “historic day” for the town by both local county councillor Graham Timms and cabinet chair, Cllr Hugh Evans, who went on to describe Llangollen as “the jewel in the crown” of Denbighshire.  

The 2020 scheme, as it was originally known, means the removal of on-street parking from Castle Street and from the Abbey Road/Castle Street junction to enable the adjacent pavements to be widened and reduce parking-related congestion on Castle Street. 

Other proposals include introducing a number of pedestrian dropped kerbs along Castle Street and to reduce traffic speeds by raising the road surface at some side road junctions as well as providing loading bays for businesses on Castle Street, together with disabled parking spaces near to Castle Street. 

It is also proposed to make Market Street one-way in a westerly direction between Castle Street and East Street.

The Castle Street improvement is part of a phased-approach to improve parking and to improve walking and cycling routes in the town. 

A recent three-week public consultation exercise resulted in a total of 507 questionnaire responses being received by the council. 

The number of people who agreed with the various proposals generally ranged from between 60% and 68%.

The number of people who disagreed with the various proposals generally varied from between 25% and 36.

A total of 64% respondents said the project is generally a good idea, with some of those saying the project could be improved further.

A total of 36% of respondents said that the project isn’t generally a good idea.

As a result of the consultation a list of amendments was made to the scheme which are:

1. Change the two proposed loading bays for Castle Street to general loading bays. This is proposed in response to concerns raised by business owners about them not being able to use their own vehicles to unload goods.  

2. Consider placing time limit on Castle Street loading bay from 0930 until 6pm.

3. Change the proposed loading bay for Market Street to a general loading bay.

4. Inset proposed Castle Street loading bays (this means that the existing pavements won’t be widened where they are adjacent to the proposed loading bays).

5. Withdraw the proposal to close Short Street.

6. Consider amendments to East Street/Parade Street 90 degree bend Consider scope to improve the existing “pinch-point” issues that have been reported.

7. Consider and, if possible, provide additional short stay parking on Market Street one way section. One-way restriction may provide sufficient width to provide 2 no. on-street parking spaces.

8. Undertake traffic assessment and consider options for re-routing of HGV through traffic.

A further significant amendment came at the cabinet meeting when members agreed to a suggestion from Cllr Tony Thomas that the pavement outside the town hall be further recessed to allow the loading bay earmarked for this spot to become a free, short-stay parking area for residents and businesses.

In doing this, Cllr Jones, lead member for waste, transport and the environment, assured that the “town hall tree” nearby would be treated with “tender, loving care”.

It was also agreed to explore to possibility of providing between 100 and 150 parking spaces on land east of Llangollen Health Centre.

Recommending the scheme’s approval Cllr Jones said that during the consultation period he had walked the streets of the town centre and received a number of positive comments about the proposals.

He added: “This is a big, important project and I really want to see it happen. It has the support of the area’s MP and Senedd Member and we hope to deliver it next year.”

Mike Jones, the traffic officer in charge of delivering the scheme, outlined the issues it is meant to solve, including traffic congestion and the difficulties faced by pedestrians in crossing Castle Street, particularly in the busy spring and summer periods.

The scheme, he said, would “create a much more friendly pedestrian environment” and provide loading bays for businesses in the area.

Traffic regulation orders for the scheme will go out next month with work starting in September. With a six to seven month construction period, it should be completed by March of next year, he explained.

Cllr Jones added: “We’ve worked with residents and we’ve listened to businesses and, as a result, have put compromises in the scheme. However, I realise not everyone is happy about it.”

He said that as this was an on-going project, phase two would look at a weight restriction for HGVs and extra parking close to the health centre.

Local county councillor Melvyn Mile, who was observing the meeting, said the consultation had shown two-thirds to one-third of people questioned in favour of the scheme in general.

He added: “It would be a tragedy if this £1.7 million could not be spent on Llangollen. It’s a long-standing complaint that the town doesn’t get any investment from Denbighshire, so this is very welcome.”

The other local county councillor, Graham Timms, chair of the 2020 working group, said: “It was a locally-led initiative to tackle long-standing traffic issues.

“We had to recognise the conflicting needs of specific groups but it will be the biggest improvement in Llangollen in generations if this is approved and a historic moment.”

A number of cabinet members expressed their support for the scheme.

And the chair, Cllr Hugh Evans, said: “We went out of our way to engage and consult as widely as we could on this scheme.

“This level of investment is a historic day. Llangollen is the jewel in the crown of Denbighshire and a lovely place to visit but we need to make it better.”

Cabinet members voted unanimously to approve the scheme.

Later Llangollen town councillor Stuart Davies, who watched the cabinet webcast, contacted llanblogger to say: “I welcome a number of concessions made, including the loading bay outside the town hall being used for parking, the multi-use of other loading bays on Castle Street and the re-opening of Short Street.

“I also welcome the commitment to look at providing extra parking on land east of the health centre.”   

After the meeting, County Cllor Timms sent the following statement to llanblogger:

"Llangollen 2020 was initially a locally led initiative to tackle the longstanding problem of how a small market town designed in the days of the horse and cart can adapt to modern day demands of the active, and the not so active traveller.

 Cllr Graham Timms' further statement

"After the 2017 election as elected members we made it our priority to work with the community to seriously tackle this problem, working with the town council, the chamber of trade, Denbighshire County Council and Welsh Government to search for solutions. The Llangollen 2020 group was set up and terms of reference were agreed between partners.

"Over the last 4 years there has been an emphasis on encouraging everyone to get involved in searching for solutions and agreeing a way forward. The three major consultations on the scheme have identified areas where there is a broad agreement and the final scheme before you today includes these areas, but also recognises the conflicting needs of specific groups. As Mike has demonstrated, the county has responded to the concerns of everyone who participated.

"We had no budget and so we're delighted in 2011 when £500,000 of a new Welsh Government Grant was agreed by the Denbighshire cabinet to be allocated towards what is now a £1.75m project. If agreed today this will be the biggest investment in Llangollen for generations and the quality of the materials will also ensure that its effect is felt for generations to come. It is a historic opportunity, demonstrating how an active community driven scheme, funded by DCC and Welsh Government Grants can help to solve problems and create a better place to live work and visit.

"Llangollen's problems will not be entirely solved by this scheme and the report recognises the need to continue to work with the community to find solutions to parking as the next priority. Thankfully, that is likely to cost much less, but will be time consuming to find an adequate solution.

"I'd like to thank all those who have been involved in getting the scheme to this stage and finally I'd like to thank Robyn Lovelock who has been instrumental in driving this project from the start and whose dedication energy and ability has inspired us all.

"I would urge you as cabinet members to agree this proposal to transform Llangollen into a place that we can all be proud of."

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