Proposed experimental pedestrianisation of Whitby Swing Bridge, 10:30am to 4:00pm daily, starting April 2021
With daytime visitor numbers increasing year on year, it has been necessary to regularly close Whitby swing bridge to traffic for pedestrian safety. In 2019, it was closed for safety on 13 weekends, often unpredictably, which can be inconvenient for the people of Whitby and its visitors. It is also costly to the taxpayer to close the swing bridge in this way. This year the Covid-19 pandemic has magnified the issues, with a multiagency task group which includes the police, borough and county councils making the decision to close the swing bridge to traffic 10:30am to 6pm every weekend, and to deter extraneous traffic from Pier Road every day 10:30am to 6pm.
The importance of allowing traffic over the swing bridge, connecting the east and west sides of Whitby, is recognised but this has to be balanced with the needs of pedestrians at core times of the day.
The Whitby Town Deal Board includes representatives of community organisations, businesses and local councils. It was set up to oversee the preparation of a bid to government for up to £25 million of funding for projects to boost skills and enterprise, sustainability, digital and transport connectivity, community well-being and revitalise the economic prospects of Whitby.
Connectivity in the town, and a focus on the harbour, has been a consistent theme of the Town Deal working groups. As part of this work the our highways team has investigated the possibility of running a formal trial (rather than ad hoc as it is currently) on the Whitby Swing Bridge becoming pedestrian-only more frequently and regularly. The bridge frequently forms a natural ‘pinch point’ for pedestrian movement in town and a more structured approach is therefore a sensible option to explore.
The Whitby Town Deal Board has secured £400,000 of fast-track Government funding to pay for the infrastructure needed to carry out the trial.
A trial scheme which would see traffic prohibited from using the swing bridge during the hours of 10:30am to 4:00pm every day. This would mimic what happens already on busy weekends throughout the summer.
Signs would be installed on the approaches to the town centre to inform drivers that the swing bridge is unavailable to all traffic, and that casual traffic will not be allowed on New Quay Road, St Ann’s Staith, Pier Road, Haggersgate and Khyber Pass between the hours of 10:30am and 4:00pm.
For traffic that needs to access lower Church Street during the hours when the swing bridge is closed, a temporary new turning point / roundabout would be created to allow buses and other vehicles to turn around. The turning area would be within the Tin Ghaut permit holders’ car park. Engagement with permit holders is being carried out by Scarborough Borough Council and alternative parking locations for them nearby will be offered before any changes are made to the car park. Access to Upper Church Street would be unchanged.
As the proposed restrictions on New Quay Road would be ‘except for access’ this means businesses would still be able to receive deliveries, residents and holiday home guests would be able to access their properties and blue badge holders would be able to access disabled parking bays on New Quay Road, St Ann’s Staith, Pier Road and Khyber Pass. Taxi’s will be able to continue using the rank on New Quay Road as they do now. No vehicles would be permitted over the swing bridge or along Grape Lane between 10:30am and 4:00pm each day. Emergency service vehicles would be exempt from all restrictions.
The aim of the trial is to see if a better, more efficient and elegant system for the management of traffic on the swing bridge that is more befitting of Whitby’s status could benefit the town, local people and visitors.
The proposals affect Whitby swing bridge, Grape Lane, New Quay Road, St Ann’s Staith, Pier Road, Haggersgate and Khyber Pass between the hours of 10:30am and 4:00pm.
Drivers would have the opportunity to turn around at Langborne Road roundabout or a new turning area at Tin Ghaut car park, if they have missed the signs informing them of the restrictions. However, we are planning very clear, noticeable signs that we would anticipate drivers would see and take heed of.
We are planning that the trial starts in April 2021 and runs until December 2021, although it may end before that date.
In January 2021 we intend to report any comments we receive whilst seeking authorisation to advertise an ‘Experimental Traffic Regulation Order’. If approved, the trial would need to start in April 2021, as this is a condition of the funding. During the first six months of the trial, anyone can send their comments to the local highways office at Whitby and, if necessary, changes to the restrictions can be made and the trial continued with, or ended early.
It’s important to stress the trial nature of this experiment. Ultimately, everyone wants what’s best for Whitby – a solution that is safe and works for residents and visitors alike. Importantly, if it is not successful then the project can be stopped. Furthermore, even in this situation, the funding will have paid for better infrastructure (new signage etc) that will be a benefit to the normal situation.
As concerns have been expressed that more restrictions may result in parking issues in streets just outside the current Whitby disc parking zone, alongside the trial, we will be consulting with local residents and businesses on possible extensions of the zone to cover the Fishburn Park and Ropery/St Mary’s Crescent areas.
At town centre locations, including Spital Bridge junction, we are already measuring traffic movements and will continue to actively monitor the traffic levels once the trial is in place. If the trial is successful and the additional funding from the Town Deal is secured, it may well be possible to redesign Spittal Bridge junction to assist traffic turning to and from the main road.
Conclusion of trial
We intend to start the formal review of the trial around December 2021, unless the experiment ends earlier than that. A written report containing all comments received would be prepared so that a formal decision could be taken on whether to make the arrangements permanent, alter the arrangements following feedback and continue with a further trial period, or remove the trial and not progress the scheme any further.
At present, it is planned that the effect of the Experimental Order would be as follows;
- St Ann's Staith, Haggersgate, Pier Road and Khyber Pass - the existing seasonal ‘access only’ experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO), prohibiting all vehicles except for access between 10:30am and 4:00pm, is proposed to be amended to everyday for the duration of the experiment. Access would be allowed, as it is now, for taxi's & emergency vehicles, and for residents of properties and businesses that can only be accessed using St Ann’s Staith. Blue badge holders would be able to access the disabled parking bays on St Ann’s Staith, Pier Road and Khyber Pass.
- New Quay Road – proposed new ‘access only’ ETRO prohibiting all vehicles except for access between 10:30am and 4:00pm every day for the duration of the experiment. Access would be allowed for taxi's & emergency vehicles, and for residents of properties and businesses that can only be accessed using New Quay Road. Blue badge holders would be able to access the disabled parking bays on New Quay Road.
- Swing Bridge - proposed ‘pedestrian zone’ ETRO, prohibiting all vehicles between 10:30am and 4:00pm everyday for the duration of the experiment. It is proposed the swing bridge pedestrian zone would be enforced by automatic number plate recognition cameras, making it possible to issue a penalty to vehicles entering this zone during the restricted hours.
- Grape Lane – proposed ‘pedestrian zone’ ETRO, prohibiting all vehicles between 10:30am and 4:00pm everyday for the duration of the experiment.
If you require a paper copy of the plans, please contact our customer resolution centre on 01609 780780.
Have your say
This consultation closed on 24 December 2020.
What happens next
All replies will be reported to the 29th January 2021 meeting of the Director of Business and Environmental Services with Executive Members, so that a decision can be taken on whether to proceed with the trial in April.
If approved, nearer the time, we would commence the legal process of advertising an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO). The Experimental Order would come into effect a minimum of 7 days from the date of the Notice.