Why Bedford Place area?
Southampton City Council has been working with the Business Improvement District (BID) for Southampton on introducing measures to support the reopening of retail and hospitality in Southampton. In 2020, the BID / Go! Southampton launched the Southampton Inside Out campaign to allow businesses to create more outside seating. More details can be found here: https://www.gosouthampton.co.uk/southamptoninsideout/
As part of suggestions for Covid-19 mitigation measures, Southampton City Council received suggestions on creating more outdoor space and pedestrianised areas in the Bedford Place area on our Commonplace survey, which can be found here: https://southamptontravelmap.commonplace.is/
An analysis of Bedford Place and Carlton Place demonstrated that ten hospitality premises could make use of outdoor dining space if pedestrianisation were to occur. This came after businesses started making use of the recently suspended car parking bays to allow for outdoor tables and chair licensing along Bedford Place.
What has happened?
The temporary scheme has opened up the streets for pedestrians and for outdoor tables and chairs licensing, placing a restriction on motor vehicle access in areas on Bedford Place and Carlton Place.
- A section of Carlton Place and Bedford Place has been pedestrianised through a restriction on motor vehicle access. This is enforced using a mixture of planters and concrete barriers and is in Bedford Place between Henstead Road and Carlton Place, in Carlton Place between Bedford Place and Southampton Street, and in Lower Banister Street between Carlton Place and opposite Popworld. Lower Banister Street allows two way traffic to provide access to the multi storey car park.
- Lower Banister Street has a timed road closure on weekend nights to allow pedestrianisation through a restriction on motor vehicle access (except for local access).
- The previous timed closure along Winchester Street, also introduced in support of this scheme, is no longer in place, as Winchester Street is currently being used as a diversion route while works are underway at Waterloo Terrace.
Why have things changed?
The Bedford Place area has high footfall for people who walk to access the area from surrounding residential areas. Traffic levels on Bedford Place are high due to the number of vehicles who use the route as a short cut to avoid main roads. This makes crossing the road and accessing retail and hospitality premises difficult for some resident groups in the community. The creation of pedestrianised areas makes it easier and more pleasant for people to walk or cycle to their nearest shop. Evidence shows that investment in better access for pedestrians brings with it significant economic benefits, with people walking shown to spend more time and money in retail and leisure outlets. This scheme therefore aims to support local businesses, while contributing to a more pleasant, attractive atmosphere in this popular area of the city.
With hospitality initially restricted to operating outdoors from 12 April in accordance with the Government's Covid-19 roadmap, the changes will also give businesses additional space to provide outdoor seating.
What is an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order?
The restrictions have been implemented using an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order – this allows Council to give seven day's legal notice and install temporary infrastructure (in this case a mixture of planters and concrete blocks) to trial proposals. Council must commit to consult, monitor and evaluate during the experimental period. An Experimental Traffic Regulation Order lasts for 18 months, but at any time during the trial the council is able to modify or remove the scheme. At a period after six months, the council also has the option to make the scheme permanent and conclude the trial if it wishes.
Part of the monitoring of the scheme includes traffic counts on adjacent streets, observations on how the space is being used and analysis of feedback as part of the legal process. The council has also been consulting regularly with local businesses on the impact, and working closely with the Business Improvement District to assess the impact on retail, beauty and hospitality businesses.
How can I access the area by car?
The scheme has seen the suspension of on-street car parking along Carlton Place (near Southampton Street) and on Lower Banister Street (outside Popworld). Other car parking in the area is available, such as the on-street parking on Upper Bannister Street and the off-street car parks at Amoy Street, Bedford Place Multi Storey off Lower Banister Street and Amoy Street car park.
Residential properties in the Polygon area such as Canton Street and Henstead Road are still able to access their properties although they may find that their route from the city or from the north will be more indirect and may take a little longer than usual due to the closure points. Diversions are via Carlton Crescent.
What about the elderly and disabled?
The council has carried out an Equality Impact Statement Assessment (EISA) which has assessed the impact on different groups in the community, such as the elderly and disabled. The Assessment has concluded that there is no known impacts of the scheme and that the scheme will provide a safer, more spacious environment to enable public walking through the high footfall area to follow social distancing guidelines.
What are the effects on surrounding roads?
Diversion routes for the scheme will result in traffic being asked to use routes along Carlton Crescent which may receive an increase in traffic. Traffic may also use Henstead Road to move around the road closure. Council is monitoring the impact of increased traffic on these roads as part of the monitoring and evaluation component of the Experiment Traffic Regulation Order requirements.
By improving the pedestrian environment and removing vehicles from these streets, people who live locally are encouraged to walk or cycle to this local shopping area rather than using their vehicle for a short trip. Evidence from similar schemes of pedestrianisation and vehicle restrictions has shown a reduction in the overall number of car trip numbers for local trips as people switch to walking and cycling.
When is it happening?
The installation of planters and barriers was carried out on Friday 21 August. Council worked with local businesses to establish table and chair licenses for the pedestrianised space from that date.
The trial has continued over the winter, enabling essential retail to operate in line with social distancing guidance throughout the current national lockdown and during the previous four-week "circuit-breaker" in November.
The pedestrianisation will be staying in place over the coming summer to continue supporting social distancing and the recovery of non-essential retail and hospitality businesses, which are set to reopen from 12 April at the earliest. Council will be making a final decision after the summer period regarding the future of the scheme This will take into consideration other upcoming schemes planned for the Polygon area as part of our wider plans for an Active Travel Zone.
How can I comment?
Comments on the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order should be made via the official legal response channels.
All responses must be in writing, stating the grounds on which it is made, quoting the Order title and sent to the Highways Legal Team at Southampton City Council, Civic Centre, Southampton, SO14 7LY or via email to Traffic.Orders.Legal@southampton.gov.uk.