FAQs: Temporary Changes To Facilitate Social Distancing

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Keeping pedestrians safe

Temporary changes to the layout of Marlborough High Street came into effect on Thursday 20 August.  This involved widening the pavement outside their premises and the temporary removal of the free 30-minute parking spaces at:

North side:
Bunce's (100 High Street)
The Royal Oak (111 High Street)
Costa Coffee (143 High Street) to The Marlborough Bike Company (Kingsbury Street) - from 3 December 2020
Bow Belles (84 High Street) - from 21 May 2021 for 21 days

South side:
Caffè Nero (22 High Street)
The Polly Tea Rooms (26-27 High Street)
Rick Stein (42 High Street) - from 21 May 2021 for 21 days
The Food Gallery (47-48 High Street)

You can see a plan of the changes here: jpgPlan.jpg and read the notice issued by Wiltshire Council here: pdfTraffic_Order_Notice.pdf and the 21 May 2021 notice is here

These changes are temporary, and will be kept under review.

The changes do not affect existing bus stops, the taxi rank or disabled parking bays

Q: Why is this change necessary?

Towns in similar situations who are committed to the safety of residents and visitors have made or are making similar changes - this includes Malmesbury, Devizes and Bradford on Avon where the changes to road layout have been far more extensive.  Type 'high street social distancing' into your web browser for a long list of further examples.  Our High Street includes a mixture of shops and hospitality businesses and can get busy with pedestrians on sunny days, holidays and at weekends.  Many of our businesses have to limit the numbers of people inside to operate safely, which may involve queues building up outside (e.g. to wait for takeaways).  Sadly we have already lost Sarsens and WJs, two of our pubs remained closed all summer, and we don't want to see others closing too.  For some businesses with smaller premises, or awkward layouts, redesigning the interior to allow for social distancing measures would mean their business just might not be vialble given that hospitality outlets need to employ several staff - jobs for local people.  Providing space on the pavement for cafĂ© tables will help make up for the losses inside as well as providing an outdoor option for customers who may feel safer dining out of doors.

Q: Why are you adding more restrictions at the bottom of Kingsbury Street?

Temporary changes to the road layout were put in place on Thursday, 3 December to increase pavement space in the very narrow section of the High Street that runs from the corner of Kingsbury Street (The Marlborough Bike Company) past 143 High Street (Costa Coffee) to allow for safer social distancing for pedestrians.  There are two reasons for this.  First, queues often build up on the narrow corner outside the barber and bike shop.  Although they do well to manage the queues the very narrow pavement is not wide enough for pedestrians to pass these queues at a safe social distance without stepping into the road on a blind bend.  This is particularly noticeable at busy times such as weekends.  Secondly Costa Coffee has requested additional outdoor seating space to make up for lost trading space inside the store.  As with other temporary schemes in the High Street, Wiltshire Council Highways will be able to adjust or remove the scheme if any problems occur.

Q: Why are you adding more restrictions near Bow Belles and Rick Stein?
Temporary changes to the road layout will be made from 21 May to provide outdoor table space for Bow Belles and Rick Stein and to allow safe social distancing for pedestrians.  The pdforder issued by Wiltshire Council allows this change until 19 August 2021.  The Town Council was not given enough time to be properly consulted on this and, while fully recognising the need to support local business, expressed its concern in particular about the location near St Peters Church.  More details can be found in the Minutes of the Planning Committee held 26 April 2021 - click here
Q: Why are you removing 12 free parking spaces?

The intention of this scheme is not to do away with free parking - we know how much this is valued by residents, visitors and businesses alike.  The changes are temporary, will be reviewed, and reinstated when either businesses tell us they no longer need them, or the guidelines about the public health risk from COVID19 mean they are no longer warranted.  The Town Council receives an allocation of free parking days from Wiltshire Council each year and was delighted to be able to offer compensatory free parking in George Lane car park on Fridays last Autumn, enabling people to stay longer than the 30 minute spaces allow.

Q: Why aren't the pavements being extended along the whole of the High Street?

Initially this was the proposal in order to allow people to pass safely at 2 metres.  However we listened to concerns raised by many businesses who felt that the necessary removal of all free parking spaces would irreparably damage local businesses.  Instead, the changes have been made only where businesses have specifically asked for it.  Any businesses taking advantage of this scheme will need to apply for a free temporary pavement licence from Wiltshire Council.

Q: Why do we have to have ugly orange barriers?

Any change to the layout of the road can take motorists by surprise.  Barriers need to be highly visible in all weather conditions, day and night, as well as provide reassurance to nearby diners that they can be seen clearly.  We hope the cafe culture that people will be able to enjoy from additional al fresco dining will be ample compensation.

Q: What about cars rolling out of the central parking area?

Wiltshire Council has been alerted to this issue.  Initially temporary barriers will be installed on the south side and then replaced as soon as possible with red & white interlocking 'Bull' barriers including reinforcement bars and pedestrian panel mesh tops.

Q: How can I ask a question or raise an objection?

This is a Wiltshire Council scheme and ultimately it will make decisions on whether to retain or change it, guided by recommendations by the Town Council.  Locally, the scheme will be reviewed regularly, and will be a standing agenda item at our Planning Committee meetings.  Members of the public are welcome to attend any Town Council meeting, which always begin with Public Question Time.  In addition you can contact us directly at enquiries@marlborough-tc.gov.uk 

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