Fossgate latest plans

Fossgate –  Green Councillors called in the plans for pre- decision scrutiny. You can watch the recording of the meeting 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2of_P7ihbQ&feature=youtu.be&t=01m08s  

The final version of this scheme was decided at a council meeting on Nov 15th 2018 : http://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=738&MId=10861  Cllr Denise Craghill, Guildhall ward councillor said:  “This scheme as it stands is a small improvement on what we have now but is a hugely missed opportunity on a number of counts.”

  • The street is crying out to be a fully pedestrianised part of the footstreets. This proposal fails to do this but now has a commitment to ‘further consultation’ on this further step at a future date.
  • Traffic, including deliveries, will still be allowed in the street during the the main shopping hours and the layout of the street with raised pavements and a central carriageway still prioritises motor vehicles over pedestrians in the street.
  • The scheme will still have relatively narrow footways at the Pavement end of the street (outside the Nepalese restaurant, Connolly’s and Alterations Express and outside part of Sutlers and the Bluebell on the other side). The widening of the pavements near the junction itself is very limited in terms of improving accessibility. The bollards on the Connolly’s side of the street need to remain in place to protect the overhanging buildings from large vehicles
  • The lack of a level surface across the top part of the street (from Pavement down to Franklin’s Yard) means that improvements for the cafes in the street in terms of the capacity to put out tables and promote a street café environment are limited. It seems that the narrowing between the Hairy Fig and the Fossgate Social is intended to allow some street tables whilst maintaining a reasonable pavement width for accessibility – and this is an improvement on the current situation. However, as far as I can see this will still be a very limited space and will still see customers sitting right next to passing vehicles and inhaling their exhaust fumes.

I have asked but I am still not clear about the reasons for not having a level surface from the junction with Pavement down to Franklin’s Yard.

In relation to funding issues, I have had no clear answer as to whether or not there is sufficient funding to make the street a level surface between Pavement and Franklin’s Yard? I can’t help getting the impression that the funding could be sufficient to make this stretch level as some of the work providing buildouts wouldn’t be necessary?

In relation to the moratorium requested by the Government on new shared spaces Iam still unclear as to whether officers have asked the Department of Transportfor clarification on how long this will last before new guidelines arepublished and if they can provide further clarification as to what they regardas ‘shared space’ in the meantime.

In
respect to the concerns of blind and partially sighted people I naturally
believe this is a very important consideration. But I would like to see what
options have been considered in terms of delineating level surfacing and ‘safe
spaces’ in ways that do not have to involve kerbs and varying levels, which
must in themselves be challenging for some blind and partially sighted people.

I have also asked and had no clear answer as to why the
option of pedestrianisation (ie, bringing Fossgate into the footstreets as
proposed many times in the past) wasn’t considered as part of this
consultation?

My preferred option would be pedestrianisation of the
street during footstreets hours between Pavement and just before Franklin’s
Yard and a level surface along this same stretch.

With
a level surface and pedestrianisation there would no question of shared space
during the footstreets hours as vehicles would not be admitted. There would be
shared space outside the footstreets hours but at much less busy times of day.
In this option, there would be a need for clarification from the Department of
Transport regarding its current advice to local authorities and close working
with blind and partially sighted groups on how to delineate the space.

If only this stretch of the street were pedestrianised it would provide the pleasant pedestrian priority environment that is being sought and prevent any through traffic during the day, but also allow for two-way traffic between Franklin’s Yard and Walmgate. The latter would maintain access to the parking bays at that end of the street, allow vehicle movements in and out of Franklin’s Yard, in and out of Fossgate House and in and out of the close vicinity of the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall entrance. The Green Group has suggested this option a number of times, but it appears not to have been considered so far.

A further option that doesn’t seem to have been considered
would be pedestrianisation but without the level surface.
In this
case there would no shared space so this would not be an issue. This would, in
my view be a less satisfactory solution but would be an improvement on the
current proposals.

If the area to be pedestrianised were as suggested (between Pavement and Franklin’s Yard) it would be a question of adding a TRO or TROs (Traffic Regulation Orders) to a version of the current proposals. It may need one TRO to implement the pedestrianisation and one TRO to reinstate two way traffic between Franklin’s Yard and Walmgate. It would also need further consideration of the proposed build outs at the southern end of Fossgate.

There seems to be a conviction amongst officers that vehicle access is needed by asmall number of residents and traders during footstreets hours. I would like tosee far more evidence of how many residents and how many traders hold this view, what exactly these access needs are, whether they could be met in otherways and to what extent limiting the pedestrianisation to the stretch between Pavement and Franklin’s Yard would allay concerns.

Limiting the length of the pedestrianisation could potentially tackle some specific problems whilst the prevention of through traffic would bring benefits to the whole street, not only the pedestrianised section.

I would also like to see clear numbers in the report indicating the views of street residents, street traders and the wider community in the surrounding area and York as a whole, who value Fossgate as part of our shared city centre.

It seems that many reasons are being found as to why we cannot properly pedestrianise this street, rather than focussing on the transport hierarchy which puts pedestrians and people with disabilities at the top and grasping the opportunity to give this vibrant little street the environment it is crying out for – fully pedestrianised with street cafes, planters, seats and maybe sometrees.

Other concerns

As mentioned above I also have some concerns about the proposals for Pavement atthe junction with Fossgate. Speed tables that currently slow down buses and anyother traffic on Pavement are being removed, which means traffic could befaster – not prioritising pedestrians. At the same time, pedestrians arevisually directed towards informal ‘crossings’ at the same locations as theprevious speed tables – far away from the natural place for pedestrians tocross into Fossgate. A large proportion of pedestrians going (or likely to go)down Fossgate are surely coming from Colliergate and the natural line for themto take is straight across – and yet there is no facility provided for this –simply a resurfaced highway. This doesn’t seem like a good use of this money. Alayout which actively encourages pedestrians to cross from Colliergate intoFossgate would be more appropriate. The proposed layout is presumably aconsequence of the lack of pedestrianisation and the prioritisation of vehicletraffic still turning out of Fossgate into the flow of pedestrians.

The junction with Walmgate. If the street is to be pedestrianised, say as far as Franklin’s Yard, there may well be a need for two way traffic (as above) between the junction with Walmgate and Franklins’s Yard giving access to Franklin’s Yard itself, to the back of the Merchant Adventurer’s Hall and to the flats by Foss Bridge. The entrance treatment proposed would then need to be altered again to provide for two-way vehicle flow. Whilst I appreciate that the proposed build outs do offer a gateway treatment, with the option to provide better signage, this is again something of a ‘halfway house’ solution. The latest report shows that a safety audit actually suggested this solution to facilitate residents of Merchant House being allowed to drive out onto Walmgate rather than having to drive all the way through the street but the scheme designers have rejected this!

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