skip to main content skip to footer skip to sitemap skip to accessibility statement

The Avenue Proposal - Frequently Asked Questions

Why have both SCN5 and widen Lovers Walk?

While a cycle route on The Avenue segregated from traffic provides an attractive facility for many cyclists there will remain a high demand for pedestrians and cyclists on Lovers Walk. A cycle facility on The Avenue between Bassett Avenue and Northlands Road will for the first time provide a continuous cycle link between the City Centre and northern city boundary unlocking demand for cyclists routing through the common. Despite the anticipated shift in cyclists to The Avenue corridor, once completed, user feedback tells us that there will continue to be a demand for cycling on key footpaths in the Common.

As well as avoiding high trafficked roads users choose to route via the common as they want to travel via this unique green space in the city and for people travelling between Hill Lane or The Avenue and University routes along the common remain a popular direct route.

The Avenue will present those faster cyclists with a faster more direct facility on The Avenue leaving footpaths on the common for slower cyclists. Conflict at existing levels of pedestrian use alone also demonstrates a need for widening which, will not change with the introduction of SCN5.

What is the Impact on Vehicle Journey Times?

The Avenue corridor remains an important route for traffic including buses and so our proposed design reflects the need to minimise capacity loss while still providing a consistent and safe pedestrian and cycle link. With this in mind we have proposed two key changes;

Cycle only crossing – Providing a ‘cycle only crossing’ giving green time for cyclists only to cross the junction without conflict with vehicles. This is particularly important for busy high-speed roads where drivers are turning left across a cycle route. This will slightly extend the time for a complete cycle of the traffic light phases. Pedestrians will continue to use the refuge island to cross between phases. A toucan crossing was considered; however, this would require much longer times for pedestrians to crossing this wide junction and would have had a far greater impact on journey times.

Formalising single traffic lanes – As can be seen on design drawings traffic lanes widths are narrower between The Cowherd PH and subway underpass northbound and between Highfield Avenue and Winn Road southbound. Traffic lane widths allowing two-lane queuing capacity are retained both northbound and southbound to the extent required not to impact on journey times.

What is the impact on loss of Common Land?

The widening of Lovers Walk results in a net increase of tarmac on the common. While some additional grass areas can be gained, this does not fully offset the loss. Loss of grassed area is 1,422m2 while the gain is 157m2 leaving a net loss of 1,265m2. This represents 0.086% of the Common.

An ecological compensation plan has been produced, which looks at two areas of Common land running alongside Lovers Walk, which would be managed to increase biodiversity. The woodland and scrub have been split into a number of compartments which will be felled/cleared on a rotational basis over a period of 10 years. The objective for the management is to allow more light to reach the ground flora and create additional ecological niches. This work will provide a suitable habitat for reptiles and a variety of invertebrates.

The proposed management works will result in 3,602 metres squared of land subject to positive ecological management over the ten years period outlined within this document. Approximately three times the amount of habitat lost as a result of Lovers Walk widening will enter into positive ecological management. The compensation proposed was entered into the Biodiversity Impact Assessment Calculator and shown to provide a net gain in biodiversity value on Southampton Common. Therefore, the level of compensation is considered to be suitable to offset the loss of habitat associated with the widening of Lovers Walk.

Should the planning application for Lovers Walk pass, then the council would need to submit the planning application to the Secretary of State due to the increase in tarmac on common land.

In addition to the management outlined, Southampton City Council will also continue working with Southampton Common Forum to resolve other concerns, including:

  • Develop and promote a Code of Conduct for all users of The Common not just on Lovers Walk.
  • Review hard surfacing on The Common with no existing use or heritage value that could be returned to green space.

Preliminary designs show that there may need to be some localised loss of the verge to deliver SCN5. This is where southbound cyclists change from on road to on footway just north of Winn Road. Delivery of early phases of SCN5 to date have increased green space in several locations which could offset this potential loss of verge. This would need to be confirmed once designs are rationalised following this consultation and discussion with stakeholders about mitigating any impact on Common Land.

What was the feedback from the public consultation?

Your feedback

What have we done

Shared footways are dangerous and do not encourage cycling/walking.

Based on this feedback, we are reviewing the level of shared use to see what we can feasibly move to on-road segregated.

Cyclists are brought back onto footways at certain points. This is to make sure that cyclists travelling from and to the corridor in these locations have sufficient access to signal-controlled junctions and crossing points.

Cyclists go too fast / endanger pedestrians / ignore the Highway Code. There need to be speed restrictions / enforcement for cyclists built into shared footways.

We’re currently finalising plans for physical signage to encourage slower cycle speeds on shared use footways and footpaths in Southampton Common and other City Parks. This is part of a ‘Share with Care’ code of conduct that was a popular request during the consultation period.

This is in addition to an upcoming road safety campaign that will encourage all road users to show consideration for others.

A delineated footway/cycleway off the road is preferable over shared use footways which are too 'stop start' for cyclists.

Based on this feedback, we are reviewing the level of shared use to see what we can feasibly move to on-road segregated. 

There should be cycle segregation along the whole length of The Avenue. 

The on-road sections of cycle lane will be segregated from traffic and we have been trialling various options for this over the summer months.

Do not make both footways from Northlands Road to The Cowherds shared use - cyclists only use the inner path (and not the outer).

The existing shared use footpath is not as accessible to many cyclists so the footway alongside The Avenue would be used regardless. The new shared use footway prevents the need for cyclists to enter Southampton Common via Cemetery Lane which is a pinch point.

The footway from Burgess Road to Highfield Avenue is not wide enough for a shared use footway.

Based on this feedback, we are reviewing the level of shared use to see what we can feasibly move to on-road segregated.

On-road cycle lanes are too narrow and too close to the busy highway and as such don't feel safe.

The on-road cycle lanes will be segregated from traffic along the route. This has been trialled along the corridor over summer 2020 to assess its performance.

This will cause greater traffic congestion, increasing delays and pollution.

The predicted impact of these proposals on the highway network has been considered and on balance is considered acceptable to achieve the goals of the scheme. It is not accepted that overall the scheme will have a negative impact on air quality. While there may be localised concerns around queuing traffic during peak traffic hours, these would not override the wider benefits delivered by facilitating modal shift.

We are committed to improving Southampton’s air quality and reducing health impacts. The national Air Quality Plan for Nitrogen Dioxide in UK (2015) sets out targeted local, regional and national measures to meet these goals. We are currently developing a package of measures as part of the city’s Air Quality Action Plan and Clean Air Zone implementation plan to encourage behaviours which support improvements in air quality. This includes schemes like SCN5 which aim to improve transport through efficient infrastructure, the uptake of new and innovative technologies and the increased uptake of public transport, cycling and walking.

This scheme is inadequate to accommodate faster cyclists who will therefore continue to use the road. As the road will be narrowed to create the new cycle lanes, this will put cyclists who fall into this category at greater danger.

The design is catering for all cyclists and therefore strikes a balance between users. The facility is predominantly placing cyclists in their own lane with a greatly improved facility compared to that which currently exists. The segregation provided will feature gaps at regular intervals, making it possible to overtake or exist the cycle lane should that be desired.

Provide a two-way cycle lane on the west side of The Avenue rather than two narrow cycle lanes. This will provide room for overtaking, allows right turns for outbound cyclists and would be cheaper.

The cycle facilities along The Avenue have been designed so that people can cycle with traffic and this next stage is a consistent continuation of those.

The final design won't be good enough to encourage modal shift.

We are reviewing the level of shared use to see what we can feasibly move to on-road segregated. Despite this the design greatly improved cycle access along the A33.

Suggested design improvements:

  • Use the most direct route
  • Gradual ramps
  • Design out lips on kerbs
  • Better lighting at junctions
  • Better visibility and signage

We've taken all comments into account for good design practice.

Cycle lanes are not cleaned and maintained. More needs to be done for existing routes.

We are in discussion about changes to street sweeping practices that will reflect the increase in on-road segregated cycle routes.

There should be more crossing facilities as part of the design to access bus stops and at Highfield Road.

As part of the design feasibility stage, the provision of crossing facilities for cycles and pedestrians around Highfield Road was considered. Unfortunately, due to issues with surface levels, trees and sight lines, it was not feasible to include any specific facility within the scheme design. Northbound cyclists wishing to access the university and the Highfield Road area will be able to do so by using the Common underpass to cross The Avenue.

Junctions should give priority to cyclists and be clearly signed as such.

The design proposes to provide continuous crossings at side roads where the cycle facility is shared use. These encourage drivers to turn into side roads with caution and reinforce rule 170 of the Highway Code which states that drivers should give way to pedestrians crossing when vehicles are turning into side roads.  

The level of cycle facility to be provided at the signalised junctions of Burgess Road and Highfield Road is still in design review.

Narrowing The Avenue will make it dangerous for traffic turning into Highfield Road.


Narrowing will formalise a single lane in either direction, requiring traffic to stop behind a right turner. Currently right turners need to navigate two informal lanes of traffic with northbound vehicles passing on their inside.

Improve uneven conditions of the footpath along The Avenue.

The design takes into consideration the need for resurfacing where the scheme impacts on footways.

The Common is overgrown onto the footway. There may be enough room for a shared footpath if this is cut back.

Vegetation along this section of The Avenue will be cut back and the design will permit the ongoing cutting back of vegetation. This would achieve shared use footway widths in sections.

Plant wild flowers in retained verges to encourage biodiversity and reduce maintenance.

As with all schemes we will be considering planting options as part of the design.