County Council to consider decommissioning emergency active travel schemes

Linked with the Government’s forthcoming decision on the national easing of Covid-19 restrictions (from 21 June), Hampshire County Council is to consider removing the temporary emergency active travel schemes across Hampshire - introduced to support social distancing under national emergency powers during the first lockdown. The proposal aims to ensure that the County Council, as the highways authority, is operating in line with Government guidance and legislation

Jun 10 2021

Since May 2020, and the award of £863,000 of Government emergency funding, a total of 42 emergency schemes across Hampshire towns and villages were delivered by County Council and district and parish council partners. The purpose was to support the Government strategy for social distancing by reallocating road space (closing streets to vehicles and suspending on-street parking) to create safe environments, helping to embed distancing behaviours. 

Councillor Russell Oppenheimer, the County Council’s Executive Member for Highway Operations, said: “During the pandemic, the emergency schemes were necessary to support social distancing and give confidence to the public that it was safe to go back to the shops. I know there has been a mixed reaction to the emergency schemes in Hampshire and I will be reviewing the officers’ report carefully before making decisions next week. The lessons learned from the schemes will certainly feed into the next phase of Active Travel measures.” 


Winchester Scheme

Removal of the current emergency active travel schemes is not recommended in Winchester from 21 June however, to allow a month of additional traffic and travel data to be captured before the school holidays. Therefore, it is proposed that decommissioning of the city’s schemes would be delayed so that the County Council can assess the combined impact of the emergency active travel schemes, as lockdown eases and travel and traffic patterns return to something more akin to the pre-Covid situation. This will importantly help to inform and shape the Winchester Movement Strategy  


Support for local economic recovery

With the aim of supporting the hospitality industry, as part of the recovery of the local economy, a new approach is being proposed in the report; to support individual applications for temporary measures such as suspending on-street parking bays to provide more highway space for outdoor tables and chairs.  If the new approach is agreed, businesses could apply for a licence and there would be a presumption in favour of support, where it is safe to do so - this would apply across the county.  


Future Active Travel Schemes

The report makes clear that removal of the emergency schemes is not linked to potential plans for introducing, at a future date, active travel schemes to enable and encourage people to walk and cycle more and use the private car less. 

Consultation about a number of schemes took place in the spring (2021) and the feedback will be reported in July, alongside consideration of other factors, including an analysis of how each proposal will support increasing levels of walking and cycling.  The report on these potential new active travel schemes will be considered by the Executive Member for Highways Operations at his decision day meeting on 29 July, with any agreed schemes expected to be delivered in the autumn. 

Full report

The full report, including the list of emergency temporary active travel schemes proposed to be removed (in line with the anticipated withdrawal of national social distancing guidance), can be viewed on hants.gov.uk