On 15 May 2018, Streets Reimagined presented their proposals for improvements to the Library Junction: the part of town that most people thought in need of improvement for pedestrians in our Town Plan Survey. This post summarises the proposals, gives details about why the Town Council is undertaking this work and describes what will need to happen if the proposals are to be carried forward.

44 Bruton residents attended the presentations, and gave feedback on the proposals. If you want your views to be considered too, please comment at the bottom of this post.

The proposals

It is easier to illustrate the proposals than to describe them in writing (though we have tried to describe them below). The image above is an illustrative summary of the proposals. Also available to view download or print are:

two computer generated ‘swept-path analyses’, which show how vehicles will navigate the new junction:

There are several key elements to the proposals:

  1. The traffic island will be removed, and the two lanes at the eastern end of the High Street will be reduced to one lane. This gives a shorter crossing for pedestrians, and forces vehicles leaving the High Street to make more of a turn either left for Quaperlake Street or Coombe Street, or right for Patwell Street. (At the moment the road layout encourages vehicles from the High Street to continue into Quaperlake Street or Patwell Street without stopping).
  2. There will be a continuous paved area at the eastern end of the High Street, which will run, at pavement level, from the south side of the High Street to its north side and then across the bottom of Coombe Street to the north side of Quaperlake Street. Vehicles will enter and leave the paved area by gentle ramps. The ramps and street furniture will mark the route for cars. The whole paved area, with its street furniture, will be a strong visual marker that this is a space where vehicles have to slow down and take additional care.
  3. Pedestrians will be encouraged to cross Quaperlake Street by a paved crossing (at carriageway level, rather than raised) opposite Grove Alley, rather than to make a less safe crossing closer to the Library Junction itself.

Why are we bringing forward these proposals?

In the responses to our 2016 Town Plan Survey traffic was the single most frequently mentioned concern. Amongst many other questions we asked residents which transport improvements they saw as most important. As can be seen from the following chart, there was a large majority in favour of better walking routes being the most important, and a large majority thought making Bruton easier to drive through least important.

We then asked at which of various locations around the town was it most important to improve the experience of pedestrians. The Library Junction was easily top:

Because of what residents told us in our survey, our Town Plan 2017 states that:

‘We want Bruton to be a place where it feels easy and safe to walk around, but wrong to drive fast’

Because residents also told us that the Library Junction was the place most in need of improvement, we decided to start there. We allocated £5,000 from the 2017-18 budget to recruit consultants in urban design. Streets Reimagined were selected following a competitive tender. We asked them to come up with a design for the junction that is:

  1. Consistent with making Bruton a place that feels easy and safe to walk around
  2. Respects the conservation area
  3. Detailed enough to allow discussion with Somerset Highways
  4. Not prohibitively expensive

These are their proposals.

What will need to happen if the proposals are to be carried forward

Roads in Somerset ‘belong’ to the Highways Authority. In the case of the Library Junction the Highways Authority is Somerset County Council. For the proposals to be carried forward, the County Council will need to be satisfied that the proposals are necessary, safe and affordable. The funds to make the improvements will need to be found.

Before the County Council goes ahead with any proposals its traffic engineers will carry out a safety audit of the proposals, to ensure that they make the road network more rather than less safe.

Preliminary pricing suggests that these proposals will cost in the region of £60,000 to implement. Our County Councillor Anna Groskop has submitted a bid to the County’s Small Improvement Scheme for funding to support these proposals. At time of writing it is not yet known whether her bid has been successful. (If not, it may be possible for her to re-submit next year). Our past experience is that the County Council will then expect a local contribution of about 25% of the cost of a small traffic scheme such as this. The Town Council has already contributed £6,000 (£5,000 for the consultant fees for this design work, and a further £1,000 for a detailed topographical survey of the junction), but has not yet decided to contribute a further sum.

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