Highways

Introduction

Almost all matters relating to our highways, (whether affecting roads, pavements, pedestrians, cyclists or motorists) come under the responsibility of Essex County Council’s (ECC) Highways department.  Telephone: 0345 603 7631.

We are always trying to improve the road systems and speak to ECC regularly to inform them of what is needed.

ECC have performed Highways Studies of Saffron Walden which have concluded that most key junctions in Saffron Walden are over or forecast to be over capacity with no or little solution to the problem. As a result, the central area of Saffron Walden Town has been declared as an air quality management area (AQMA). Although pollution levels appear to have decreased in recent years, they remain high, and all air pollution harms human health.

Therefore, SWTC are keen to promote sustainable transport methods. We are aware that the street layout in Saffron Walden means that many pavements are inadequate, and cycle provision is almost non-existent within Saffron Walden, or further afield.

Repairs

Most highway repairs are the responsibility of ECC Highways, this includes; road and pavement issues, street lights, flooding, manhole covers and signage.

We regularly report defects via ECC’s Report it online tool, found here. Defects only need to be recorded once and ECC provide email updates on the issue.

SWTC maintain an ongoing dialogue with ECC Officers and County Councillor Paul Gadd who assists in chasing ongoing defects.

If you are aware of a defect, please let us know and we will report it to ECC and follow it up.

Unfortunately, what we would call a serious defect however does not always meet ECC’s investigation levels. Therefore, quite often defects are logged and checked by Highways but it does not meet their investigation levels, so no works are carried out, but we are told the defect is regularly checked.

A list of reported defects at time of writing (December 2021) can be found here.

Speed Limits

At SWTC we think that a reduced speed limit will make walking and cycling more attractive and in turn may help to reduce car journeys which will reduce air pollution.

During the Coronavirus outbreak the Government specifically requested that the Highways Authority put new pedestrian measures in place as a priority while lockdown was easing. As a result, the speed limits were reduced to 20mph in the town centre and the road closures in place on Market Days were also be placed throughout the rest of the week, excluding Sunday’s (and now Monday’s). This is in aid to support pedestrians as they walk around town and social distancing can be maintained.

While lockdown is lifted The Government allowed the 20mph to continue with the view of making it permanent.

At time of writing (December 2021) the public notice has been issued for consultation regarding permanent 20mph zones, assuming there are no objections this is likely to be installed in Spring 2022. A map of the proposed 20mph areas is below.

Crossings

In addition to promoting a reduced speed limit to aid pedestrians, SWTC are aware of the difficulties for pedestrians crossing at busy junctions. We have submitted the below requests to the Essex Local Highways Panel (LHP) who will complete their validity checks between now and March 2022, if successful they will then be included in the 2022/23 budget of works.

Pedestrian Islands

  • London Road
  • Borough Lane

Zebra Crossings

  • Thaxted Road/Victoria Avenue
  • Ashdon Road/Chaters Hill
  • Ross Close by the school
  • Cromwell Road/Landscape View

Formalised Footpath 

  • Water Tower Place – Whilst not a crossing, a formal footpath is required for residents to walk over, at the moment they are crossing over the verge.

Cycling

In order to reduce emissions, we are trying to promote sustainable travel but are aware of the poor cycling provisions in Saffron Walden.

We have requested the following schemes to be validated and enforced via the LHP process. Again, we will find out in 2022 whether these schemes are feasible.

  • London Road to Gibson Gardens
  • Including opening London Rd/Gibson Gardens cut through to cyclists and cycle contraflow on Abbey Lane
  • Town Centre contraflows – Market Row, King Street, Market Hill
  • Audley End Rd to Abbey Lane (Widen Battle Ditches and Abbey Lane contraflow)
  • Common Hill (to connect with north side of Common)
  • Chaters Hill/Ashdon Rd (path along north side of Common)
  • Museum St contraflow – Helps to mitigate Church St / Castle St one way system
  • South Rd onto Fairycroft Rd contraflow – Helps to mitigate one-way systems
  • Connect Saxon Way to Wenden Road
  • Highfields/Sheds Lane
  • Debden Rd/Mt Pleasant rd
  • Borough Lane/ Mt Pleasant Rd
  • Cromwell Rd/Winstanley
  • Newport Rd
  • Radwinter Road
  • Little Walden Road
  • Rowntree Way
  • Thaxted Rd

Overgrown hedgerows, trees, weeding etc

Quite often hedgerows and trees prove a problem to pedestrians as they grow over onto the footpaths, meaning they are forced into the road.

Where hedges and trees grow on the edge of the highway or footpath to mark its boundary with a private property, it is the responsibility of the adjacent landowner/occupier to maintain them. This is per the 1980 Highways Act Section 154. Therefore, residents are politely reminded to manage their hedges and trees appropriately and that they are cut right back to their boundary line.

Any trees, verges, hedges or general gardening which is not owned privately or maintained by SWTC is reported to the district council via their Highway Ranger service. If you have an area of concern, please let us know so we can report it.

© Copyright - Saffron Walden Town Council 2022