The Committee considered the officer’s report for the introduction of a 20 mph zone for Victoria Road and adjoining residential roads in Dorchester. As part of the Dorchester Transport and Environment Plan (DTEP), enhancements had been made to pedestrian crossing provision on all major arms of the Great Western Junction to improve the accessibility of the junction for vulnerable road users as well as maintaining throughput capacity and accessibility.
Whilst this scheme had proved largely successful, in implementing the scheme, there had been a need to prohibit certain traffic movements to complement this, with an ‘access only’ Order being made to restrict motorists from using Victoria Road as a convenient alternative. However, since being introduced in July 2017, subsequent monitoring of traffic flows had shown that it had not been as effective as thought in deterring through traffic.
Moreover, the volume of traffic using the route out of convenience had increased. This, coupled with the speed of vehicles using the route as a means of a short cut, had given rise to the proposal Members were now being asked to consider. Whilst every effort was being made as far as practicable, it was generally recognised that enforcement alone was a challenge without additional measures being implemented.
The proposals were considered by officers to now be necessary as a consequence of the implementation of the original scheme to ensure all that could be done to deter traffic from using Victoria Road unnecessarily. What was now being experienced had been previously raised as a concern by some residents prior to the Junction scheme being implemented.
Officers described the proposal, what it was designed to achieve and set out the practicalities of delivering this, including providing an understanding of those traffic flows and manoeuvres undertaken. To complement the zone, physical measures – raised, cushioned platforms – would be constructed as a means, making the scheme self enforcing. Road closures were not possible and there was no space to accommodate a turning head. Illustrations showed the scheme’s setting within the character of the townscape and the local road network, the junction’s and the roads’ configuration and the residential roads’ relationship with each other; with the Great Western Junction (GWJ) and with the amenities in the area. Officers were satisfied that acceptable, alternative routes were available to motorists wishing to gain legitimate access.
Advertisement of the proposed 20 mph zone, with its complementary physical measures, had resulted in objections and representations being received and the Committee was now being asked to give these due consideration and whether the proposed Order should be recommended to Cabinet for implementation as advertised, apart from the inclusion of the speed cushion at the junction of Albert Road and Victoria Road which, following consideration of those representations, had since been discarded.
David Sharman, local resident, had previously raised concerns about the prospect of rat running along these roads as a result of the GWJ improvement scheme prior to the matter being considered by the County Council’s Regulatory Committee in autumn 2016. On the basis that residents had been given some assurance that this would not be the case, much of the opposition to that GWJ scheme had been withdrawn, allowing it to proceed. However, those previous concerns had since been realised, which was now causing residents the concern he had envisaged. Given the consequence of this, he now considered that the 20mph zone should go some considerable way to achieving what many residents hoped it would do and supported it entirely.
Another resident, Linda Poulsen, was of the view that since the changes had been made, there had been a marked increase in traffic along Victoria Road and other roads in the area, with incidents and altercations being experienced. She too hoped the zone would provide the answer residents were looking for and that the physical measures would give the impression of the road being less attractive to those thinking of using it unnecessarily. She thanked the relevant authorities for now addressing the matter.
Since living in Victoria Road, Rodney Alcock had seen a considerable increase in the volume and speed of traffic using it and it had become a congested and dangerous thoroughfare. On the grounds of road safety, he welcomed the proposals.
The Committee heard from Andy Canning, in his capacity as one of the Ward Councillors for Dorchester West and as Chairman of the DTEP Project Working Group, who wholly supported the proposals being made to maintain amenity for residents and to discourage unnecessary through traffic. He accepted that the unintended consequences of the scheme had been realised to a greater extent than previously thought but was confident the proposals would now address the matter and was what the majority of residents wanted. He also felt that the zone was required on road safety grounds.
The Committee were then provided with the opportunity to ask questions of the
officer’s presentation and officer’s provided clarification in respect of the points raised
including questions about future monitoring of the situation; what the collision record was and how vehicles manoeuvring over any speed humps could have a bearing on air quality and noise. Officers confirmed that there would be continual monitoring of the effectiveness of the zone and that only one, minor, traffic incident had been experienced in the previous five years. Any adverse environmental effect of the humps would be more than mitigated by the reduction in overall traffic volumes.
The other Ward Member for Dorchester West was on the view that the proposals would satisfactorily address the issues being experienced by residents, particularly in successfully reducing the volume of traffic. The physical measures would act as a deterrent to the majority of those who did not need to legitimately use the road for access purposes.
Whilst some members had reservations of the effectiveness of the scheme and how enforceable it was, the Committee largely understood the need for, and the reasoning behind, the proposal and what benefit it was likely to bring to those residents in the affected area. They acknowledged that as part of this scheme being successful, there would need to be as effective enforcement as practicable, but understood that the physical measures to be put in place would serve to act as some deterrent to those looking for a shorter, alternative route. On that basis, and being put to the vote, it was
That having considered the objections received, Cabinet be asked to implement the 20mph zone Order for Victoria Road, Westover Road, St Helens Road and part of Albert Road, Dorchester as advertised, with the exception of the road hump at the junction of Victoria Road and Albert Road.
Reason for Recommendation
The proposals should further deter inappropriate and excessive use of this quiet, residential street by unsuitable and unnecessary through traffic.