During 2020 Petworth Town Council (PTC) persevered with efforts to improve road safety and traffic calming in the town. This has not been easy as the abundant regulations and guidelines preclude many of the measures reviewed by PTC and proposed by residents.
The traffic calming measures that we are informed do not meet current National and County guidelines, and would therefore not be approved, include chicanes (or road constriction), alternate flow, speed bumps, traffic diversion, traffic lights, speed cameras, and pedestrian crossings at most of the suggested locations. Most speed limit changes, that PTC has investigated on the towns approach roads, also do not meet current guidelines.
The best remaining option with a reasonable chance of success that is available to PTC, is a 20 mph Zone designation for the town including all of North St and most of Angel St. To this end a 20 mph Zone application report was prepared in 2020. This report is available on the PTC website and describes pavement widths, narrow road pinchpoint locations, actual measured average speeds at more than 15 locations in and around the town, accident statistics, the results of initial consultation (with mitigation measures), and a preliminary Zone design.
The report has been submitted to WSCC Highways, and copied to all interest groups in the town, in support of a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) application. The initial feedback from Highways has been encouraging but there are potential obstacles and these will need to be worked through with Highways as part of the TRO process before a final design can be identified.
A Community Highways Scheme (CHS) application had been the initial intention but there is fierce competition for CHS projects and experience suggests that if the application followed this route alone there would be a 50% or lower chance of success and the anticipated time frame would be at least 3 years.
The alternative is for PTC to make a ‘3rd party’ TRO application which could shorten the time to a decision to about 1 year. This would effectively ‘jump the queue’ but has an upfront non-refundable cost of circa £8,000, and if successful PTC would be responsible for finding the money to pay for the work and signage required.
The current status therefore is that PTC is seeking confirmation that our application report provides all the information required to ensure a ‘reasonable chance’ of a successful TRO application.
Most guidelines are defined at a national level and transport officers are obliged to make decisions according to guidelines. They do not make exceptions or bend the rules. However, a Highways recommendation can be over-ruled by County Councilors in exceptional circumstances. Pressure from a local MP can also be used to make exceptions and to lobby for changes at a national level. For this reason, PTC would ask that any resident wishing to support a town 20 mph Zone, or unhappy with the status quo, should address their opinion to their MP and County Councillor.