THE RETURN of traffic to Leamington’s Parade is being dubbed a missed opportunity by many residents.
The town’s main thoroughfare was reopened to cars, buses and other vehicles on Sunday – once again sparking the debate as to whether the Parade should or should not be permanently pedestrianised.
For the past year the Parade has been closed to most vehicles – from the junction with Clarendon Avenue down to the Regent Grove turn off next to the town hall – to allow for social distancing.
But with the arrival of so-called ‘freedom day’ on Monday (July 19) the restrictions on access have now been lifted – much to the regret of many people commenting on social media.
One resident said: “I think it is a step backward to open up the Parade to traffic again. We will also welcome back air pollution, noise, safety of children crossing the road and shopping being far far less pleasurable. No to traffic on the Parade.”
But others living on neigbouring streets, such as Dale Street, have welcomed the diversion of traffic away from their doorstep.
And others argue the re-opening makes getting into the town centre much easier for people with mobility issues as buses can again stop on the Parade.
Any decision on pedestrianising the Parade rests with highway authority Warwickshire County Council.
A spokesperson said: “Warwickshire County Council understand that there is a range of views on these arrangements, but also growing support for the continued pedestrianisation of The Parade.
“It should be noted that the current scheme was only temporary and was implemented solely for the purpose of generating additional space for pedestrians to adhere to the social distancing rules, as a result of Covid-19.
The decision to re-open was made in collaboration with Warwick District Council, Leamington BID, and other stakeholders.
The spokesman continued: “Warwickshire County Council, in discussion with Warwick District Council and Leamington Town Council, is considering the long-term proposals for The Parade, building on the lessons learnt from this temporary solution.
“While there have been many benefits to the closure of The Parade to traffic, it has led to knock-on consequences elsewhere around traffic flows, the routing of buses, and clearly issues you have highlighted. These all need further careful consideration and more detailed planning and design to ensure that any future scheme found, creates effective solutions to these issues. This would certainly include consideration of any appropriate traffic calming or changes to road designs to address the concerns you raise in your email.
“There are many factors to consider with such a significantly sized scheme in such a prominent location, and therefore this will take some time to consider, and any future plans would involve extensive public consultation before any decisions were made.”
The buses are back on the Parade – but is it for good?