The first monitoring report from Somerset West and Taunton Council on the trial closure of St James Street has shown an increase in footfall at the junction of North Street and St James Street.
Counts for the quarter from May to July recorded an average increase of 4.4% at the junction.
The town centre street was closed to traffic between North Street and Lower Middle Street on a 12 month trial basis in May this year.
A package of monitoring measures was put in place so the effects of the scheme could be reviewed with reports and meetings every three months including local stakeholders, traders and highways representatives.
The first quarterly monitoring review was discussed at a meeting of the stakeholder working group.
The main findings also showed that:
- There is significantly less traffic on North Street during the day, and generally traffic has found new routes around the town centre. After the first few weeks there has not been an increase in delays and the highway network is coping well with the change.
- Ticket sales for the Coal Orchard car park have decreased when compared to the same quarter in 2018, however, this has partly been offset by available capacity in nearby Wood Street car park where revenues from ticket sales have increased when compared to May – July 2018.
Council staff have been conducting surveys with customers in the Coal Orchard car park, St James Street, Middle Street and North Street, with feedback suggesting that public perception of the project is generally good.
Some businesses have lodged complaints about the scheme and its impact on trade which the project team is addressing by implementing improvements wherever possible.
It has arranged for extra signage to the shops and businesses and is buying an additional footfall counter to be directed specifically along St James Street.
Further actions as a result of the report have been added to the Public Space Improvement Project action list.
Cllr Marcus Kravis, executive member for economic development, said:
“The aim of this project is to create a better environment for residents, shoppers and visitors, which will help attract investment.
The trial closure is giving us a chance to work with the shops and businesses in and around St James Street to address any concerns as they arise.
Our intention is to help the retail community in this area to thrive with the creation of public spaces that are attractive and inviting with fewer vehicles, less pollution and reduced noise in line with our status as the first garden town in the South West.”
The quarterly reviews will continue throughout the trial, supported by a series of further reports and monitoring review meetings.
The first quarterly report is available to view.