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Future of Groves’ low traffic plan to be decided

Published Wednesday, 5 January 2022

The council's Executive is to consider making permanent an 18 month ‘Experimental Traffic Regulation Order’ in The Groves area of the city. 

The traffic regulation change was installed in September 2020. This saw a number of road closure points and changes to traffic routes introduced in The Groves area, following extensive feedback from residents regarding the impact of large volumes of through traffic in the residential neighbourhood.

Before the traffic trial commenced, three years of community engagement took place with residents of The Groves to develop a Community Plan.

Through workshops, walkabouts and local event sessions, local residents demonstrated significant community support for change. They expressed a strong desire to explore new affordable housing, improved streets and spaces, and local projects to involve residents, as well as to address traffic and air quality issues in the area.

The Groves’ Community Plan was developed to be a housing-led plan, setting out to create a more sociable neighbourhood, improving the health and wellbeing of residents in an area which compares poorly with other areas of York.

The traffic changes, brought in response to the resident engagement, were temporary to allow for adjustment where necessary to support the ambitions outlined in the Community Plan without undue impact on daily life for local residents.

Following this work, Executive is set to receive the results and evaluation of the low traffic neighbourhood trial and several consultation phases. Similar traffic trials have taken place across the country, including in London, Newcastle and Oxford.  Such initiatives are encouraged by the Department of Transport (DfT) as ways to provide sustainable transport alternatives and encourage a shift towards sustainable and healthy travel.

Data in the report reveals that whilst the scheme has seen traffic on surrounding routes impacted, The Groves area has seen air quality improvements, a reduction in traffic levels, increased levels of cycling and enhanced community activities in the neighbourhood.

In order to meet the transport and housing objectives outlined in the Council Plan and the Local Transport Plan, and to follow the national policy direction from the DfT, the report recommends that the trial be made permanent. This would also allow for further data to be collected, keeping traffic flows in the area under review with regard to long-term impacts and possible further mitigations.

A number of proposed improvement works will also be presented to the Executive for consideration to help address some of the issues raised by residents opposed to the scheme. These range from upgrades to junctions, cycling improvements, as well further surveys and monitoring of impacts on surrounding residential streets to consider further mitigations in the future.

Councillor Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader of City of York Council and Executive Member for Transport, said,

Three years of consultation with residents of The Groves has shown their ambition for a new approach to their local area and community. Before the implementation, The Groves had been used as a through-route for cars, causing much traffic, noise and pollution, which were overwhelming concerns expressed by residents.

“This low traffic neighbourhood trial follows similar schemes across the country, with the aim of reducing traffic flow and its associated concerns in a local area. It is generally accepted that to achieve this reduction, traffic flow has to be focussed on the main distributor roads.

“The scheme has demonstrated a significant reduction in motorised traffic in The Groves in general, and an increase in the number of cyclists travelling through the area. A& general reduction in annual Nitrogen Dioxide concentrations were also found, within the wider context of improvements in York’s air quality in 2020.

“While such trials often impact on the traffic flow in surrounding streets, as is the case here, the significant improvements brought about by these restrictions have directly addressed the concerns expressed by the local residents and also given us valuable insight which will be used in the development of the future transport plans for the city.

“I look forward to discussing the evaluation and the best ways we can support local communities whilst building on our suitable travel and carbon reduction ambitions.”

Ann Stacey, a local resident and chair of The Groves’ Residents’ Association, said:

The difference in the quality of life for residents since the trial began has been very obvious. We are seeing less traffic, less noise and less pollution, and people are more able to stop and chat when they meet in the streets which is good for everyone's health and wellbeing.

"The majority of objections have been from people who use the roads as a short cut. Most people who live in area are appreciating the improved quality of life.”