New road network planned for town centre

By Juliette MaxamA PROPOSAL to create a huge one-way system through a town centre has been branded a “recipe for disaster”.Traffic bosses want to reduce the number of vehicles using Colchester town centre as a through route.

By Juliette Maxam

A PROPOSAL to create a huge one-way system through a town centre has been branded a “recipe for disaster”.

Traffic bosses want to reduce the number of vehicles using Colchester town centre as a through route.

They hope to instead channel traffics on to the town's arterial roads, such as Cowdray Avenue, Westway, Northern Approaches and Eastern Approaches.

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Under a new proposal, drivers who want to go through Colchester town centre would only be able to enter via Headgate and Head Street.

All traffic, apart from public transport, would have to leave the town centre by Queen Street and St Botolph's Street.

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North Hill would become one-way, with traffic going downhill, while East Hill would be open to public transport only.

The plan is at an early stages and could only be implemented if the routes that bypass the town centre, such as Cowdray Avenue, are improved.

Colchester Borough Council transport cabinet member, Richard Gower, said: “The basic idea is to start from the premise that we have to work from the outside in, to provide alternative better routes for traffic that ought to go from west to east or east to west without using the town centre.

“At the moment people use the town centre as a means to get from west to east when they shouldn't need to. We aim to encourage traffic away from the town centre by improving those other routes, making them a better alternative to use.”

However, Mr Gower warned: “We can't close down the town and end up with a huge traffic jam.”

But the proposed one-way system drew a guarded response yesterday from councillors, business leaders and the public.

Colchester Borough Council Labour leader, Tim Young, said: “It seems to me to be a recipe for confusion and disaster.

“We should consult with people about making High Street completely pedestrianised instead of tinkering around with half-hearted proposals.”

Derek Ashbee, manager of the town's Culver Shopping Centre, said: “I think something needs to be done.

“What's happening at the moment is not conducive to shopping visitors or anybody. Whether what they're planning is right, I don't know.

“Shopping visitors like to get as close as they can to the town centre in cars. If the local authority is trying to dissuade them, they may choose to go elsewhere. The congestion at the moment might put people off coming over to Colchester.”

Colchester Chamber of Trade president, Ewan Dodds, added: “Any proposals that make accessibility in and out of the town centre will have to be thought about very, very carefully.

“Accessibility in and out of Colchester is very difficult at the best of times because of historic constraints.

“Any proposals to change access on the one hand may be welcome if the town centre as a result becomes a more attractive place to work and shop and so on.”

Alpesh Patel, proprietor of Colchester newsagents Globe News, Middleborough, at the bottom of North Hill, where bus lanes have just been removed, said: “I think it's silly they have to keep changing it so much - it's a bit of an inconvenience.

“At the same time I hope it doesn't affect my business, although it may affect those in the town centre and North Hill.”

Lyn Hurren, who works in Colchester, added: “It's just crazy to keep changing the one-way system. Then they don't police them when they open them.”

Businessman Peter Murgatroyd said: “The trouble with this place it's a complete bottleneck now. The whole area is very difficult to get through at peak times, particularly in the morning.”

He added the bus lane in North Station Road forced traffic onto Westway and Colne Bank Avenue, while North Station Road was empty.

“They need to think very carefully. By not allowing people into the town centre they're pushing congestion into a tighter place,” said Mr Murgatroyd.

Bricklayer Stephen Robertson said: “I don't think they should do it. Why should you go a long way round? If you want to go through the town centre, you should be able to do that.”

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