Brentwood High St to close to most vehicles to help people keep safe by social distancing in the town centre
Release issued in partnership by Essex County Council and Brentwood Borough Council
A section of Brentwood High St will be closed to vehicles, except buses and cycles, for an interim period beginning on 4th July, to enable safer social distancing in the town centre. Essex County Council and Brentwood Borough Council have worked together after retailers suggested an interim closure to private vehicles, with just buses and cycling allowed, would bring a much-needed boost to the shops now they are free to reopen. The changes are paid for by Government as part of national work to re-open town centres safely.
Called ‘Safer, Greener, Healthier’, these schemes aim to provide bigger, safer spaces for city centre shoppers, residents, workers and visitors to maintain social distance. Measures will be constantly reviewed and altered if required.
Measures in Brentwood will include:
Closing the High St to vehicles from the A128 Ingrave Road to Kings Road. Only buses & cycles 9am-6pm. General traffic, incl taxis & private hire vehicles will not have access to the High Street between 9am & 6pm, except via St Thomas Rd. The High St from St Thomas Rd to the A128 Ingrave Rd will be available for all vehicles to use, eastbound traffic only, to keep St Thomas Road open at its junction with High Street.
The Limited Waiting bays on St Thomas Road are to be converted into blue-badge holders only bays. The taxi bays will remain as they are.
There will be diversions around the High St: vehicles coming from Brentwood rail station (south of Kings Rd) will head north on Kings Rd into Weald Rd, right onto Western Rd, right into William Hunter Way, right onto A128 Ongar Rd then left onto Shenfield Rd, and vice versa. On Street parking at the top of Kings Road will be suspended for the duration of the pedestrianisation.
Visitors can use the nearby Chatham Way car park, William Hunter Way car park or Coptfold Road multi-storey car park, which all offer free 30-minute parking. For more information about the location of car parks and current parking fees, please visit www.brentwood.gov.uk/parking . If you have any queries please contact Brentwood Council via email using firstname.lastname@example.org
All deliveries to businesses on the High St will now be to the rear of the properties, as discussed with the businesses by Brentwood Council. The exception will be Iceland which has deliveries at 6-7am when they can park near the closure and bring in goods on trolleys.
Traffic signal timings at the western end of the High St will be changed to reflect the road closure. Public Safety signs will be put up where appropriate, plus barriers and other traffic management measures.
In Ingatestone, a 20 mph limit will be applied around the High St, with precise locations to be determined.
The Brentwood schemes, like others planned across Essex, is driven by immediate public health requirements such as social distancing, but in encouraging walking and cycling it will enable healthier and greener ways of getting around. Data on streets in UK and elsewhere where the pedestrian experience has been improved shows footfall increasing 20-35 per cent, with sales increases following.
Mike Hawkins, Chair of the Brentwood Business Partnership said: "Our partnership is supporting businesses through this difficult time in a number of ways, including by launching the Brentwood Open group on Facebook to help keep our local high streets trading for essential goods and services. The group is a space for businesses to promote their current offers, share news and let people know how they're trading during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has gained over 5,500 members during lockdown so far. We must back our businesses so we maintain a strong economy whilst staying safe.
“To this end we have expanded the Brentwood Open brand in partnership with the Council, sharing the message to Eat Local, Shop Local and Support Local. We are working together to keep people safe. Providing more space for people to move on the High Street is the next step in enabling an environment for businesses to safely open. Whilst there will be some issues to overcome, we have had overwhelming support for this measure and are looking forward to working with the Council to make it a success for Brentwood Town."
Colin Barber, Chairman of the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce said: "Brentwood has a variety of businesses, including retailers on the High Street. Brentwood Chamber of Commerce represents businesses who are trying to reopen and operate in challenging times. The High Street is an important location for the local economy and it is vital that people feel safe to do business and shop where appropriate.
“Allowing pedestrians to have more space will be an important part of helping shops to reopen safely and help us return to some kind of normal. This is an excellent initiative and takes advantage of an ideal opportunity to look at new ways of invigorating Brentwood High Street."
Dr Mike Gogarty, Director of Public Health, Essex County Council explains:
“Providing space for the public to practice safe social distancing remains a core part of the measures we need to limit the spread of coronavirus. Helping people to social distance in traditionally busy urban areas will help immediate public safety; it will also make it easier as businesses re-open.
“Walking and cycling are healthy activities in their own right, they can help to lessen traffic congestion and consequently improve air quality, so these new measures are very supportive of societal demand.”
Councillor Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said:
“We have responded directly to people’s need for safety and the many who are already increasing the use of pavements and cycle lanes. While I recognise that many people will still need to use their cars, this is a chance to think hard about driving for short journeys. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to greatly improve our air quality and our health as well as the life opportunities for the next generation.
“Brentwood is among the first county schemes in the country to use this money to help people confidently return to shop and work, as lockdown measures continue to be carefully eased.”
Brentwood Borough Council Leader, Cllr Chris Hossack said:
“I thank Essex County Council and its Highways department for putting this into place so quickly. It is no mean feat given the busy thoroughfare that is the high street and Brentwood’s geographical position on the A12, A127 and M25. It is a credit to all those involved that this has been achieved at speed to best help promote our vital high street economy. Safety for all those who come to Brentwood is our primary objective and from Saturday shoppers will have the additional reassurance of being able to use the main road and enjoy the experience free from most traffic. I encourage them to do just that while observing the requirements for social distancing of course.”
The total money that could be made available to Essex by the Government if further plans are approved is up to £9.6m.
Why not log your cycle ride on some of the enhanced routes for National Bike Month and let others in Essex know what you’re doing too at www.lovetoride.net/essex?
People can share comments on the measures with Essex and Brentwood councils at SGH.Routes@essex.gov.uk
Please see the full map and scheme details on our website at: www.essex.gov.uk/safer-greener-healthier