An extension of vehicle access restrictions in place to enhance Kingsmead Square in Bath and encourage trade is being consulted on by Bath & North East Somerset Council.
Since June 2020, residents and visitors to Kingsmead Square have been able to safely shop and socialise in a traffic-free environment after temporary access restrictions between 10am and 10pm were brought in to aid social distancing.
The council is now asking for feedback on a proposal for a trial for up to 18 months of the restriction between 11am and midnight to support the improvement of the space and make it a safer place for pedestrians and cyclists, before considering whether the restrictions should be made permanent.
To carry out the trial, the temporary traffic regulation orders (TTROs) that were originally implemented for social distancing will need to be replaced with Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (ETROs) and it is these which are the subject of the six-month consultation running until July 27.
The council has identified Kingsmead Square as one of Bath’s priority areas for improvement. In September 2020, it installed the city’s first parklets alongside new cycle racks to help rebalance the square in favour of pedestrians and cyclists.
Coupled with the removal of all vehicles during the core hours of the day and evening to reclaim 1,500 square metres of road space, the improvements have increased opportunities for café culture and outdoor tables and chairs.
Councillor Richard Samuel, Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Economic Development & Resources, said: “Kingsmead Square is an important space at the heart of Bath’s entertainment area but it is also a busy arrival point for the city centre. We are committed to making it a cleaner and greener place to enjoy by extending the vehicle access restriction with a view to making it permanent, which would allow even more improvements to be made than there have been already.
“The feedback we’ve received from residents and businesses since restrictions were first introduced shows us that trade has benefitted and visitors have enjoyed the traffic-free environment.
“To support businesses further in making the most of the night-time economy, we are proposing an alteration to the hours to restrict vehicles until midnight. We need to hear your views on this and on whether the restriction should be extended, so please have your say in the consultation. It only takes two minutes.”
Under the proposals, only the following modes of transport will be permitted around Kingsmead Square between 11am and 12am:
- Emergency Vehicles (including private ambulances and RSPCA vehicles on call)
Blue Badge holders can use disabled bays on Westgate Buildings. There are also four disabled bays in Kingsmead Square Car Park.
A feedback report on the consultation will be published later in the summer. A decision will then be made on whether the proposals should be assessed for a longer period (up to a further 12 months), modified and made permanent, or not to proceed with the scheme.
The council is working on a series of public realm improvement projects to support high streets. It secured £1.235m Love our High Streets grant funding from the Combined Authority to be spent over five years on improving Bath city centre, including Milsom Street and Kingsmead Square.