We thought we’d add this new page to keep our residents informed on the highways measures we’re currently campaigning for on your behalf.
All of the factual information on this page comes from official sources and we’ve added links to these sources so that you can read further if you wish.
Feedback on this new page is very welcome to: [email protected]
Almost all matters relating to our highways, whether affecting the roads or the pavements, pedestrians, cyclists or motorists, is under the control of Essex County Council through their Highways department, and any action to be taken or changes to be made must therefore be done by ECC Highways.
Saffron Walden Town Council lobbies ECC Highways for improvements to our road system and also acts as an interface for local residents. We believe that local residents and the Town Council are often best placed to understand local needs.
A number of highways studies have been performed by ECC Highways in recent years, and have concluded that almost all of the key road junctions in Saffron Walden are over or are forecast to be over capacity. No solution has been found to this problem. A consequence is that air pollution in the centre of Saffron Walden has been at unlawful levels for a number of years. Although pollution levels appear to have decreased in recent years, they remain high, and all air pollution harms human health.
Recognising these issues and in line with our Climate Emergency declaration, the Town Council wants to see a modal shift away from private car use and towards sustainable forms of transport. 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. The lack of cycle provision is particularly apparent when compared to the neighbouring South Cambridgeshire district.
For the last 5 years we have been lobbying ECC Highways to improve pavements, road crossings and cycle facilities in Saffron Walden. In late 2015 we conducted a public consultation to determine which improvements residents would most wish to see, and since then we have lobbied for these improvements, although largely without success. We’re working on an interactive map of the schemes we submitted to ECC Highways in February 2016, and will publish it on this page as soon as we’ve got it ready.
Road and pavement repairs are the responsibility of Essex County Council, and SWTC maintains an ongoing dialogue with our County Councillor, Cllr John Moran, on these matters. Cllr Moran usually attends our Full Council meetings (2nd Monday of the month), or sends an update in advance by email. We also correspond with Cllr Moran and ECC officers in between these meetings.
We’re currently pressing for repairs to all the potholes in the roads and repairs to pavements where they are defective.
Particularly on our list:
- Paving on George Street / Hill Street
- Paving on the High Street around the trees
In 2018 ECC Highways requested the Town Council to provide a short list of the roads which we would most like to see repaired, and informed us that they would endeavour to resurface these roads. The list of roads that we submitted is as follows:
Update 11.06.20: We know that this is an important topic for our residents and we want to make sure that we get our fair share of spending on repairs. We have asked ECC to tell us how much it has spent on road and pavement repairs across each district in Essex since 2014 so that we can see how we fare. ECC’s initial response has been that it does not keep records of spending per district. We have challenged this and have asked it to check again. We will update this website with further details as they become available.
We’ve been campaigning for 20mph speed limits throughout the town for quite some time. We think that a new limit will make walking and cycling more attractive, and in turn may help to reduce car journeys and reduce our air pollution. Many urban areas in England now have extensive 20mph zones or limits. We’ve looked into how this could be established on our roads, and we believe that ECC could implement a new 20mph limit in Saffron Walden very easily, with no net additional road signage and only roundel road markings as repeaters.ECC Highways have so far refused our request as being against their policies.
Update 09.05.20: The government has specifically requested that highways authorities put new walking and cycling measures in place as a priority as lockdown is scaled back bit by bit, and has provided funding to cover the costs. We have written to ECC Highways specifically asking for measures to be adopted in Saffron Walden and we hope that this reduced speed limit will now be prioritised and funded.
Update 12.06.20: ECC Highways have informed us that, as of Monday 15th June, the road closures which are ordinarily in place on market days (Tuesdays and Saturdays), will also be in place throughout the rest of the week, excluding Sundays. The road closures will support shoppers are they move around town, wait in queues and allow compliance with safe, social distancing.
20mph limits will also be introduced, we understand initially in the High Street and George/Hill Street. The Town Council has requested ECC to take the opportunity now and under the Covid-19 measures of implementing a blanket 20mph restriction across the town centre and on all arterial roads. We are advised this could form a later part (Phase 2) of any Covid-19 traffic regulation amendments. SWTC will continue to progress this matter with ECC.
The road closures will of course be subject to review and nothing is absolute or set in stone. We have to take a pragmatic approach to ensuring the safety of our residents but also recognising the need for vehicular movement both in and around the town centre. These proposals will be subject to regular review to ensure that we meet the needs of our community.
Improvements to a number of road crossings were included in our request list of February 2016 to ECC Highways, recognising the difficulty of crossing at many of the road junctions in Saffron Walden, and the lack of crossings on many of our main roads. As noted above, we’re working to produce an interactive map of these projects, but here are some of them.
Zebra crossing on Ashdon Road near to Harvey Way. You may have seen recent advertising of ECC’s intention to install a zebra crossing on Ashdon Road near to Harvey Way. This will enable all pedestrians, especially school children on the newer developments to the east, to cross safely avoiding the busy Elizabeth Way junction. SWTC has been working on this with ECC since 2015, and is really pleased to see it finally coming to fruition. ECC has been very flexible on the feasibility study with this and we’re really pleased about their pragmatic response.
The crossing point from Market Hill to Museum Street is something we’re trying to improve, and have been lobbying ECC Highways for since February 2016. We’re aware that the pavements are narrow and that crossing Church Street is difficult for all people, particularly those with mobility issues and with prams because of the lack of visibility. We have been frustrated at the lack of progress on improving this junction and continue to ask ECC Highways for a solution.
Another point on this area – we have applied for bollards to be installed on the corner outside the Old Sun Inn to protect the building from further strikes and damage caused by vehicles. These would be the same as the bollards outside the Cross Keys.
A build-out from by the Old Police Station is scheduled to be installed as part of the redevelopment of the site. The area around Cates Corner and the bottom of Fairycroft Road is difficult to cross safely because of the lack of pavement on the north side of Cates Corner and the width of the Fairycroft Road junction. We would like to see the bottom of Fairycroft Road made safer; in the meantime however ECC Highways agreed to require the Old Police Station developer to install a build-out to make crossing East Street safer.
A crossing on Thaxted Road is scheduled, using money from developer contributions, to be located roughly between the skate park and the Knight Park retail development. This is a busy and relatively fast road and we know that families and children regularly cross here so we’re extremely keen to get this done for safety reasons.
The junction of Dedben Road and London Road has fast moving traffic and the traffic island in the middle is very small. We’re regularly reminded of the dangers of this crossing and we’ve asked ECC to install a better crossing, with a metal protection barrier in the middle, so that pedestrians are safe when inevitably they have to cross half the road at a time.
The crossing from Clutton Road over Ashdon Road has a small central crossing point and we’ve asked ECC to install a wider and safer crossing there.
In 2015 we consulted our residents on which cycling schemes they would like to see rolled out across Saffron Walden and we put those forward to ECC. We are very disappointed to see that ECC has rejected them all, citing the reasons for refusal on safety grounds, because the schemes would not satsify ECC's requirement that cycle paths must be 3m wide.
ECC has produced 3 cycling strategies for Uttlesford, in 1999, 2014 and 2018. The only scheme which has been implemented in the northern half of Uttlesford from these is the one along Wenden Road to Audley End Station, and this was funded by developer contributions. As far as we are aware, no money has been spent from any ECC budget on cycling within Uttlesford in the last 5 years at least. We have been very disappointed with the cycle strategies and the lack of local consultation, and the result has been that the strategies do not reflect what we believe are the most important local needs. Moreover, the key proposals for Saffron Walden contained in the 2018 cycle strategy have even been rejected by ECC Highways as unsafe.
ECC advises that it cannot install cycle paths in Saffron Walden because it has a policy that all cycle paths must be 3m wide, and our roads are too narrow for this. SWTC has been challenging this policy (which cannot be found on the ECC website) for a number of years and awaits a response from ECC.
Other authorities (locally Cambridge County Council) allow for narrower cycle lanes; indeed ECC references Cambridge as an example of ‘best practice design’. The Essex Design Guide Highways Technical Manual references the national Manual for Streets which says cycles lanes should generally be 2m wide, although 1.5m is generally acceptable. We do not understand why ECC Highways appear insistent on the 3m rule (or 2.5m for the cycle contra flow lanes), and will continue to lobby them to follow the national guidance and the example set by other authorities who actively encourage cycling.
In our campaigning for cycling measures we have to recognise the disappointing fact that ECC has allocated £0 towards cycling schemes in all of Uttlesford for the year 2020/21.This follows ECC allocating £0 in 2019/20 as well.
In 2019, Cllr Moran invited us to submit 3 cycling schemes to ECC Highways for consideration and we submitted the following:
1) Scheme to improve the permeability of the town centre - new permission for cyclists to contraflow vehicles, no cycle path marking required
Abbey Lane up to High St junction
Museum St and Market Hill
South Road (northern part which is one way)
2) Scheme to improve the permeability of the town centre - new permission for cyclists to use routes currently not allowed
Repell Ditches to Saxon Way
London Road to Gibson Gardens cut-through
3) Scheme requiring new formally marked cycle paths - A high number of roads in Saffron Walden are dead end cul-de-sacs. There are limited opportunities for cyclists to seek out “quiet routes”. Therefore, the main arterial roads need to have formally marked cycle paths. Clockwise from the north, these are:
B1052 Little Walden Road
B1053 Radwinter Road
B184 Thaxted Road
Mount Pleasant Road / Borough Lane
B1052 Newport Road / London road
B184 High Street / Bridge Street / Windmill Hill
ECC Highways has made no progress on any of the schemes submitted. We would like to see all of these schemes supported by a reduction in the speed limit in town to 20mph.
Update 09.05.20: The government has specifically requested that highways authorities put new walking and cycling measures in place as a priority as lockdown is scaled back bit by bit, and has provided funding to cover the costs. We hope that these cycling measures will now be re-prioritised and funded.
Update 11.06.20: We know that this is an important topic for our residents and we want to make sure that we get our fair share of spending on cycling. We have asked ECC to tell us how much it has spent on cycling across each district in Essex since 2014 so that we can see how we fare. ECC’s initial response has been that it does not keep records of spending per district. We have challenged this and have asked it to check again. We will update this website with further details as they become available.
Update 16.06.20: While some of the streets in centre of Saffron Walden have been closed to vehicles, and while two other streets have new 20mph limits, we are waiting on information on which cycling measures ECC will put in place as part of the reduction of lockdown measures and what funding will be made available locally.