Bruton Town Plan one year on

Bruton Town Plan one year on

Bruton’s Town Plan was published in June 2017. One year later a lot has been done, but there’s a lot still to do. The table below shows what the Plan said should be done, what’s happened in the past year, and what the next steps are.

What the Plan said we’d do What’s happened this year Next steps
How the Town Looks
Do all that we can to influence South Somerset District Council’s review of its local plan We’ve responded to the consultation. Our feedback has been included in the latest version of the plan. See the next action.
If this does not give enough local control we will also go on and develop our own neighbourhood plan. Because of changes in South Somerset District Council we are no longer confident that the Local Plan will give sufficient control over development. The Town Council will consider leading the development of a neighbourhood plan for Bruton.
We will do what we can to provide suitable business accommodation in the town. Bruton Chamber of Commerce have been working with local businesses. Somerset County Council are considering setting up an Enterprise Centre on a site to the west of the Frome Road. Bruton Chamber of Commerce are leading.
We will identify and try and work with landowners to ensure that their decisions about developing land reflect residents’ views. We have identified all local landowners and are currently working with the owner of the site to the south of Brewham Road. We have also had discussions with the owner of the site to the SE of Cole Road. No further action planned at present.
We will consider raising funds to purchase land to protect it. The Town Council is in discussions with the County Council about leasing the so-called County Fields west of Frome Road, and with Kings School about leasing the Fishponds fields. Discussions to continue.
Getting around
We will commission a series of studies to:
…re-design the Library Junction Detailed proposals for the re-design of the junction have been produced, consulted and agreed by the Town Council. Somerset County Council will consider whether they support the proposals.
…redress the balance between the needs of pedestrians, people wishing to park and traffic passing through in the High Street Nothing (to be considered in future years). It now looks less likely than it did that the County Council will have funds to support future local traffic schemes like this. Town Council to decide whether and when to commission a study.
…develop proposals for a wider network of safe and easy walking routes to the town centre. Nothing (to be considered in future years). It now looks less likely than it did that the County Council will have funds to support future local traffic schemes like this. Town Council to decide on next steps, which are likely to include looking for alternative sources of funding.
Develop and adopt a transport policy to limit through traffic in the town and restrict heavy goods vehicles to that which is unavoidable. The Town Council has decided that the Town Plan itself gives sufficient direction and there is therefore no need for a policy. We are working with local haulage operators and looking at best practice elsewhere to develop proposals to control HGV traffic. Once we have completed our work with local haulage operators we will meet with Police and Somerset Highways to develop detailed proposals.
Do everything we can to support disabled access to the Westbound platform at Bruton Station. We have strongly supported this, but currently Network Rail consider that the proposals that they have developed are too expensive. Further discussion with Network Rail.
Work with partners to develop an all-weather surface walking route connecting Hauser and Wirth with the town centre. Hauser and Wirth have agreed to fund most of the construction costs, and quotes for the work have been obtained. The Town Council is in discussion with Kings School about leasing the Fishponds Field, so that the path can be constructed. Agreement with Kings School about leasing the field to the Town Council. The path can then be built.
Work with the County Council and District Council to create more short-stay parking in the town centre. Discussions are taking place about the renewal of the Station Road car park lease for sufficiently long for the car park to be properly surfaced. Reach agreement with the Station Road car park owner about a new lease. Consider introducing eight one-hour parking places at the eastern end of the High Street.
Leisure and Places to go
Continue the Jubilee Park Development Programme The Multi-use Games Area has been constructed and opened. Plans for an improved skate park are being developed. Continue to plan for an improved skate park.
Look for an opportunity to either redevelop an existing hall or build a new hall [to become a permanent community hall for the town]. The Town Council has been discussing the future of the Unionist Hall with the Club and has taken legal and surveyors advice about the building. A National Lottery grant will be sought to pay for a major community consultation exercise to agree how the Hall and its site might work as a Community Hall for the town. A charity will be set up to take over the running of the hall. The Unionist Club will make a final decision about whether or not to transfer its freehold.
Start a new ‘Friends of the River Brue’ group to enhance the river and riverside as an amenity for the town, and to seek to extend the Riverside Walk to the east. BrueCREW has been established as a charitable organisation and is using a donation from Hauser and Wirth’s fundraising to enhance the Riverside Walk. For BrueCREW to decide.
Start a community group to oversee and promote Bruton’s footpath network. The Town Council has granted £2,000 to Bruton Community Partnership to set up a community group. The new group has just had its first meeting. For the new community group to decide.
Living and Working in Bruton
Work with local businesses to develop a strategy for the Town’s Promotion. A simple strategy has been agreed. No further work planned at present.
Consider whether creating a ‘parish ranger’ post will assist in keeping the town tidy and looking good. The Town Council is using its various existing contracts to carry out minor remedial work in the town but is not planning to recruit to a parish ranger post at present. No further work planned at present.
Develop a local information centre that meets the needs of tourists as well as residents. The Community Office is now open on Friday mornings all year, and on Saturday mornings in the summer months. Bruton Community Partnership are planning an information screen for the Community Office window. For further discussion once the future use of the Unionist Club Hall has been decided.
Ensure that the Community Toilets Scheme is well-publicised on maps, leaflets and on the ground. The toilets are on the Step-into-Bruton leaflet and signed at the end of the High Street. Details of the scheme should be included in the Town website.
Replace the Welcome to Bruton signs No action. The Town Council does not currently see this as a priority for expenditure. No further work planned at present.
Bruton Unionist Club

Bruton Unionist Club

Bruton Unionist Club members are shortly to discuss and vote on a proposal to transfer the freehold of the building and its site to Bruton Town Council. The Town Council supports this proposal.

In order to assist members of the Club in making this decision the Town Council has prepared two documents, which can be viewed, downloaded or printed using the links below.

The first is a ‘Questions and Answers’ document.

The second is the Town Council’s Programme Plan for the work it will undertake if it does acquire the freehold.

The Library Junction proposals

The Library Junction proposals

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.

Speedwatch: your town needs you!

Speedwatch: your town needs you!

Speedwatch has run successfully for over two years now, but we now need two new volunteers to work in the background to keep it going (you won’t need to don a high-vis jacket). We need a co-ordinator, and someone to enter the data. There will be free training for both roles, and you will also need to agree to be subject to police checks.

The co-ordinator puts together our monthly rota, recruits new volunteers, and liaises with the police about county speeding issues, passing on information to the rest of the team. The co-ordinator also attends county-wide meetings and training approximately twice a year. Our past two co-ordinators have both chosen to be part of the Speedwatch team on the street, but this isn’t absolutely necessary. We expect that if you are a co-ordinator this will take about six hours of your time each month.

The data person receives the reports from each Speedwatch session, and enters the information on an Excel spreadsheet that is then sent to the police each week. This work takes between 30 minutes and an hour each week, and you would need to have a laptop or PC with access to MS Excel.

If you are interested in either role please contact Cllr James Hood on 07968 728959. We would also love to hear from anyone who wants to be part of the street Speedwatch team.

The Town Council would like to express its gratitude to Steve Turner and Peter Underwood, former co-ordinators, and to Sarah Fews who has worked tirelessly in the background inputting the data.

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