Vehicle traffic and parking have become major issues for the residents of Whitchurch. As a rough indication of this concern, 39 respondents raised traffic and parking issues in their public opinion survey forms. We also received more than 50 comments (15 per cent of all comments) from our design day exhibition about these issues.
Traffic congestion and parking needs are not primarily design issues, and planning guidelines will not on their own either solve these problems or prevent them from getting worse. However the design of Whitchurch has evolved around its star-like through road pattern. As this is a main contributing factor to the traffic problems within the town centre, this shows that inappropriate design can cause day-today problems.
“Place pedestrians’ and peoples’ needs over cars; encourage safe streets and open spaces through good design; create a strong framework in which to introduce any future developments.”
– Public Opinion Survey
Of particular concern to residents are the increasing numbers of very large articulated lorries moving through the narrow streets of the town, particularly along the east-west B3400 and southbound from Newbury Street onto the B3400 and the A34. By their sheer size and weight these large vehicles:
- block traffic and occasionally cause serious disruption to free movement of other vehicles;
- damage street furniture;
- shake the foundations of buildings on their route;
- intimidate pedestrians and make walking on the pavements hazardous and unpleasant;
- emit polluting exhausts that cause health hazards and add considerably to damage and deterioration to the roads, the built environment and the nearby property furnishings.
Developers are now buying up older properties with large plots, and replacing the existing houses with multiple units with smaller gardens, creating more cul-desacs off the few main connecting roads. These building patterns are adding to the traffic congestion on the town’s roads and streets.
While most of the the new cul-de-sacs have streetside pavements, few paths have been built to link with the existing web of footpaths, which allows pedestrians to navigate through the town away from traffic.