A trial pedestrianisation of Whitby Swing Bridge is being proposed as part of an ambitious new project to enhance the economy and tourism in the town.
If approved, the Swing Bridge would be closed to traffic between 10.30am and 4pm daily for a trial period starting in April 2021.
The experimental order would see the Swing Bridge and Grape Lane pedestrianised. New Quay Road, St Ann’s Staith, Haggersgate, Pier Road and Khyber Pass would become access only zones between these times.
The Whitby Town Deal Board has secured £400,000 of fast-track Government funding to pay for the infrastructure needed to carry out the trial which would be implemented by North Yorkshire County Council highways team.
A key element of the scheme would be to provide signs advising of the trial and redirecting traffic approaching the town centre, replacing the temporary signage that is currently used for closures.
The Board was set up to oversee a bid for £25m from the Government for projects to boost skills and enterprise, sustainability, digital and transport connectivity, community well-being and to revitalise the economic prospects of Whitby. It is made up of a wide range of groups including businesses, local councils and representative bodies.
Councillor Joe Plant, who represents Whitby Streonshalh, said:
With daytime visitor numbers increasing year on year, we have regularly had to close the Swing Bridge to traffic.
In 2019, congestion during summer weekends and special events forced us to act, and the issue has been magnified due to social distancing concerns during the pandemic. I have raised my concerns and I want us all to work together sensibly to find a permanent solution.
Barry Harland, who is Vice Chair of the Board, said:
The Town Deal bid poses a major opportunity to secure Government money to invest in Whitby. This a small part of that overall proposal but one that, if successful, could deliver a better solution for the town, local people and visitors.
We welcome the County Council’s ongoing engagement with people and businesses to get the best solution and ultimately see if this trial could work for the long-term.
The County Council is asking for the views of residents, businesses and other interested parties. Any traffic restrictions would be introduced under an Experimental Traffic Order which allows the public to comment during the first six months and allows some flexibility in the restrictions as the trial is taking place.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said:
We understand the importance of allowing traffic over the Swing Bridge, connecting the east and west sides of Whitby, but this has to be balanced with the needs of pedestrians at peak times of the day.
We must stress that this is a trial and, if granted, it would be reviewed at the end of 2021 before any decision was made to make it permanent. We would like to hear the views of residents, town centre retailers and businesses from both sides of the bridge, as well as the tourism and hospitality sectors.
For more information please visit www.northyorks.gov.uk/whitbyswingbridge
The deadline for comments at this initial stage is December 24. To register your views please select the ‘have your say’ button on the webpage, email Area3.firstname.lastname@example.org or post to North Yorkshire County Council, Whitby Highways Office, Discovery Way, Whitby, YO22 4PZ.
Over 800 letters are on their way to addresses in Whitby town centre as well as the usual statutory consultees. For those unable to view online and who wish to receive a paper copy in the post, please contact the customer resolution centre on 01609 780780.