Saffron Walden Town Council would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to phase 1 of the road closure consultation; there were over 1000 comments made with an overwhelming number of those from local residents (70%).  The balance of responses were from visitors, tourists, workers and local businesses.

The consultation was carried out over 6 weeks during the summer, concluding at the end of August 2021.  The primary consultation method was an online questionnaire which encouraged people to respond to questions about parking, events in the square, air quality and asked a series of questions about what people like and do not like about the town centre.  In addition to the online consultation, paper copies were available from various public buildings and we held 2 consultation sessions in the market square.  The consultation was widely promoted through local newspapers, social media along with posters and signs around the town, including a QR code for easy access to the online consultation.

The consultation purposefully sought to identify a pattern of behaviour, asking people to think subjectively about the use of the town centre as opposed to simply focussing on car parking; this lead to some interesting debate and conversations around the use of Market Square and the conflict of parking / vehicular movement and how that impacts on the quality of shopping and using the town centre.  Some headline findings are:

  • People enjoy the freedom, safety and opportunities afforded from pedestrianisation. This supported with over 1,500 individual comments around:

The enjoyment of the Market Square without traffic

The desire to create more seating and space for pedestrians and cyclists

The request for more seating

  • The majority of respondents said the town centre could be improved if there were less traffic with many also supporting the provision of more food festivals and themed markets.
  • 60% of respondents felt that the current parking (ie with the Market Square closed) was sufficient but a significant minority held very alternative views; 10% said parking was currently inaccessible and 18% felt there were not enough car parks.

A review and analysis of the consultation has shaped and informed phase 2 of the consultation process. This 2nd phase will directly offer specific options being:

Option 1:  Complete pedestrianisation of Market Square (as per current covid road closures)

Option 2:  Part pedestrianisation of the Market Square.  This would involve retention of the pedestrian area of Market Square but re-opening of King Street / part of Market Street to traffic and blue-badge parking.

Option 3:  Reopening of all streets (i.e. no road closures at anytime, other than the existing market closures)

Both options 1 and 2 above have a number of variables that could be considered, for example, road closures could be limited to certain days/times of the week and/or limited to certain periods of the year (say from April to Sept/Oct)

The Council is preparing the phase 2 consultation and hope to launch this soonest; we will keep all residents and businesses informed when this goes live!  We would once again like to thank everyone for their support and participation in the first phase of consultation and we look forward to hearing from you again on the above options.