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Suffolk prepares for road and pavement layout changes to address easing of lockdown

PUBLISHED: 15:42 22 May 2020 | UPDATED: 19:06 22 May 2020

The road closure on Ipswich Waterfront for pedestrians and cyclists could be replicated elsewhere across Suffolk to help easing of the coronavirus lockdown safely. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The road closure on Ipswich Waterfront for pedestrians and cyclists could be replicated elsewhere across Suffolk to help easing of the coronavirus lockdown safely. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Changes to road and pavement layouts are on the cards in Suffolk to help ensure social distancing as lockdown eases.

Some pavements could become one way to help maintain social distancing as coronavirus lockdown continues to ease. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSome pavements could become one way to help maintain social distancing as coronavirus lockdown continues to ease. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

In response to lots of questions by town and parish councils and businesses, Suffolk County Council has categorised three levels of potential changes needed, ranging from small adaptations to semi-permanent road changes.

The categories are:

• Small – changes communities can make themselves without needing to contact the county council. This includes painted markers on pavements for where to queue or stand two metres apart

Andrew Reid, cabinet member for highways, transport and rural affairs at Suffolk County Council, said it was a 'pragmatic approach' to lockdown easing. Picture: SIMON LEEAndrew Reid, cabinet member for highways, transport and rural affairs at Suffolk County Council, said it was a 'pragmatic approach' to lockdown easing. Picture: SIMON LEE

• Medium – where communities must contact the highways authority for things which will happen beyond just pavements, or require temporary signs, barriers or cones. This may also include temporary traffic orders, planters or obstructions

• Large – semi-permanent works which will need county highways support, such as new lines on roads, pothole works, dropped kerbs or closing roads entirely

According to the council, communities are being encouraged to carry out smaller scale works themselves.

Further details are to be made public next week on the logistics of the medium and large scale works, and how those will be prioritised.

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Councillor Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for highways, said it was about the council taking a “pragmatic approach” and added: “We have received several requests from local town councils and business groups to make changes to the public highway as their usually-busy high streets and town centres begin to re-open following government lockdown.

“We are working closely with them all to implement these measures safely.

“As this work continues, we will produce further guidance and advice to support communities who are keen to undertake some of this work themselves, but in the meantime I am pleased to begin to outline how we are planning to undertake this work and empower our communities where they are able and willing to do so.”

The Safer Spaces project comes as more towns and villages prepare for greater easing of lockdown measures and more places re-opening from June and July.

Many towns are expecting to have to make changes such as one-way streets, narrow alleyways will need to be sorted and some may have areas closed off to traffic entirely.

Communities carrying out small scale works have been asked to consider safety of all people, the needs of people with disabilities, the types of paints or markings used and heights of signs.

Southwold has already proposed the introduction of a one-way system for the town centre now that shops and the public toilets are reopening.

Ian Bradbury, town mayor, said: “It is there to help people and businesses in the town to feel safer in High Street.”

He said there had been issues with social distancing, despite signs going up and welcomed the council’s new scheme to help communities.

Ruth Boulton, owner of Websters newsagents in Debenham, said the measures would help protect customers in busy areas.

She said: “Where there is a large volume of footfall, such as Ipswich or Stowmarket, these measures will be helpful.

“We still have to follow social distancing guidelines.”


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