Sudbury: Could banning parking in Cross Street improve air quality in one of Suffolk’s most polluted roads?
A letter has been sent to people living on one of Suffolk’s most polluted streets, suggesting short-term measures that could be taken to improve air quality.
According to an air quality action plan produced by a senior environmental health officer more than two years ago, families in Sudbury’s Cross Street face pollution-related health issues that could be as serious as those associated with alcohol abuse.
The street has high terraced buildings which create a ‘canyon’ effect, preventing polluted air from dispersing.
It is a main entry point from Essex so is in constant use by articulated lorries, and annual and hourly targets set for safe levels of pollution are being exceeded on a regular basis.
But despite being raised as a priority in 2012, frustrated residents claim nothing has been done to alleviate the problem.
The county council has now written to households in Cross Street sharing the results of a traffic survey and suggesting measures that could help tackle the issue.
Babergh District Council is the lead organisation in terms of responsibility for air quality, but according to the action plan, Suffolk County Council is required to make changes to the highway that could help improve the situation.
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One of the proposed actions was to remove on street parking in Cross Street to allow smoother traffic flow and hence reduce vehicle emissions. But when this was first suggested in 2012, residents did not support the proposal because they feared removing on-street parking would increase vehicle speed on Cross Street and reduce the number of parking spaces in the area.
Last autumn, the county council commissioned a speed survey in Cross Street during and after the period where nearby Church Street was closed for roadworks and parking was removed from Cross Street to allow freer flow of diverted traffic.
In the letter to residents, which is being seen as an “informal consultation”, the assistant area manager for Suffolk highways, Steve Merry, said data from the survey suggested removing on street parking would “not significantly increase the speed of traffic on Cross Street”.
He said: “Suffolk County Council is aware of the residents’ concerns regarding the air quality in Cross Street, therefore we have decided to share the speed data and ask for comments on removal of the on-street parking.”
Three options are being considered. One is to do nothing and allow on-street parking to remain the same. The second option is to remove all on-street parking and the third is to alter restrictions on parking so drivers can only legally park in the marked bays between 6pm-8am.
The letter informs householders that “little progress” has been made with Essex County Council regarding formally re-routing HGVs from the A131 strategic lorry route.