A 20 mph Zone designation for Petworth, including all of North St and most of Angel St, has been the focus of PTC traffic calming efforts for the town. The ‘Zone’ application report is available on the PTC website.
Unfortunately, PTC is currently unable to proceed with the application as we are effectively trapped between WSCC Highways objections on one hand and Police objections on the other.
The application report has been submitted to WSCC Highways, and copied to all interest groups in the town, in support of a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). The WSCC Area Highways Manager visited the town on May 24th to discuss this application and confirmed support in principle for a Petworth 20 mph Zone, provided that Sussex Police are in agreement. Unfortunately, in August Sussex Police has advised that they would oppose a Zone application that includes North St and Angel St. The reason for this is that both these road sections do not meet the National and County requirement for existing mean speeds in a 20 mph Zone to be below 24 mph. PTC has acquired extensive speed data throughout the town and the mean speed on part of North St is measured at up to 25.2 mph and on Angel St at up to 25.1 mph.
Residents will of course say this is precisely why a lower limit is essential on these narrow streets with even narrower pavements. Unfortunately, that is not how it works, as a Zone must be ‘self-enforcing’, and not require police enforcement. In this situation the Zone design must include ‘traffic calming measures’ that can be demonstrated to lower the mean to below the 24 mph requirement, wherever a mean speed of over 24mph is recorded. Herein lies the problem as WSCC Highways has advised that all the ‘hard engineered’ measures would not be approved on North St and Angel St as they do not meet guidelines. These include chicanes (or road constriction), alternate flow, speed bumps, traffic diversion, traffic lights, speed cameras, and pedestrian crossings at most of the suggested locations.
PTC has prepared a revised application using the Community Highways Scheme (CHS) (see below). The application includes a request that an exception to guidelines should be made for North St and Angel St to be included in the zone. Exceptions to guidelines can be made at a County Council level in exceptional circumstances, but Highways and Police officials are obliged to follow guidelines and do not have authority to grant exceptions.