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SIDMOUTH:Calls to improve pedestrian safety

Tuesday, 08 July 2014

Sidmouth town centre should be made more pedestrian-friendly in order to enhance the visitor experience and provide a boost to the local economy, a local campaign group has said. Responding to Sidmouth Town Council’s consultation on ways to improve the area, a Vision Group member advised councillors to consider substantial investment in a redesign of pedestrian walkways in the town centre – with a view to boosting the number of shoppers in Sidmouth. Graham Cooper, an environmental artist and member of the Vision Group for Sidmouth, proposed widening pavements along Fore Street in an effort to improve pedestrian safety and access. He said: “At present, Fore Street is a very low grade and stressful shopping experience. Dominated by vehicles and their fumes, it is unsafe and forces customers to hurry through it. “To improve this situation, I would start by widening the pavements and introducing crossing points along Fore Street and up at the hazardous Unitary Church junction.” He added: “Sidmouth is richly endowed with a nationally important historic cluster of Georgian and Victorian streets, but this heritage is severely undermined by the impact of unnecessary volumes of traffic. “A more pleasant ambience has largely been achieved in Old Fore Street and Market Square so we now need a programme to continue this success across the centre. “By widening the footpaths and introducing raised crossing while providing other traffic calming measures, we will make the main street of the town more pedestrian friendly and fit for purpose.” A 2011 report produced by Mr Cooper found no fewer than eight pavements in Sidmouth town centre that were below the minimum safety requirements in terms of width, with the entry to High Street by Fords proving particularly hazardous. And now the Vision Group is calling on the council to put forward the cash to deal with the problems. Mr Cooper added: “At present the high street is blighted by poor and unsafe environmental conditions which mean shoppers have no wish to linger. “Such a rush by the customers results in the loss of many thousands of pounds to the local economy. “A high street however is not simply about shopping but requires a much more holistic mixture of services which encourage users to stay longer. “Creating a better-shared public domain will support the local economy and help to make the resort into a prosperous tourist destination.”


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