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Road Safety and Traffic Management Proposals for Creech St Michael

Information from Creech St Michael Parish Council July 2021

This report outlines the work the Parish Council has been carrying out over the past 5 years to deal with traffic issues in the village. Its main purpose is to set out for residents some proposals which Somerset County Council Highways have made to take immediate action in anticipation of growth in traffic arising from major works on roads in the wider area. The Parish Council fully supports these proposals and commends them to Creech residents.

We are all concerned about the amount of traffic travelling through Creech and in many cases the speed of cars and vans driving on St Michael Road and Hyde Lane is dangerous. Along with most people in the village the PC wants something done about it before there is a serious accident. Fortunately speeding on Hyde Lane is being dealt with by measures already put in place by SCC Highways (supported by the PC). But there is still more to do. Including elsewhere in the parish such as Ham, where speeding traffic is an ongoing concern.

Background to the Proposals being made

Traffic in Creech has grown in recent years by a surprising amount . In 2019 there were 5800 vehicle movements a day on St Michael Road, itself a major growth from previous years. ( as many as the A378 road to Langport). In a year this had grown to 8300 per day when measured just before lockdown in early 2020.. St Michael Road isn’t an A class road; its a village street!. It is clear that over the next year or so it will get worse as major works are carried out at Creech Castle and on Tone Way. We are all aware that St Michael Road is a ‘rat run’ known to many drivers in the Taunton and Bridgwater areas. There is little that can be done to change that. But we can make the route a less attractive option and reduce traffic speeds in the village.

Over the last 5 years the Parish Council has been very active in trying to get improvements. This has been done in three main ways:

1 Neighbourhood Plan (link) The Parish Council led a team of parish residents to produce a draft plan in 2018 which was formally adopted by the District Council as part of the local plan in early 2020. The Neighbourhood Plan is based on a survey of residents carried out in 2016 which showed that traffic issues were the main concern. A key policy of the Neighbourhood Plan is that Creech should have a Traffic Management Plan, setting out detailed proposals, which could be used as a basis for bidding for funds and which should extend 20mph limits in the village.

2 RGP Report and Traffic Management Plan (link) In early 2020 the Parish Council commissioned transport consultants RGP to come up with proposals to help deter rat running traffic and improve pedestrian safety. Their report contains ideas for small works to provide safe crossing points on St Michael Road, more expensive improvements to pedestrian safety on the canal and rail bridges and at North End and ideas for where signs and lines could have an effect. These proposals were adopted by the Parish Council and were then recommended to SCC and the District Council.

3 Lobbying for improvements Throughout the last 5 years the Parish Council has been actively lobbying both the County Council as Highways Authority responsible for traffic management and road safety and the District Council as planning authority responsible for the local plan for the area. This has involved several site visits to Creech by councillors and senior officers from both councils to experience the reality of the traffic on St Michael Road and Hyde Lane. The motivation for this effort has been to get funding for the traffic management proposals. Longer term, and for the more expensive items, this will probably have to rely on funding from large development projects such as the second phase of the Monkton Heathfield development, and government grants. There will also be opportunities to bid for SCC funding to pay for minor works (such as safe crossing points). This budget largely funded the traffic calming in Hyde Lane. There is a good working relationship between the Parish Council and SCC Highways and we are confident that the general thrust of the proposals in the RGP report is supported by them. The sticking point as ever is how to obtain the funding needed.

 

Somerset County Council Highways Proposals

The County Council has accepted there is an ongoing issue with traffic volumes in Creech and its effect on pedestrian safety. In the short term they are planning for the effect of major work at Creech Castle and Tone Way, as traffic finds alternative routes, and their proposals for Creech listed below should mitigate the expected traffic growth. The proposals SCC have made reflect the RGP report mentioned above and will involve additional speed restrictions signage and the use of road markings to manage traffic. The proposals have been considered carefully by the Parish Council and are supported as a very useful first step in delivering a traffic management plan for the village..

1 Village Gateways (Map 1). These will be created at 4 locations in the village and at Creech Heathfield near the 40 mph sign (Diag 1). The purpose of the gateway is to signal to drivers that you are entering a village and should proceed carefully. Creech village locations for gateways are:

North End Edge of development on Creech Heathfield road (Diag 2)

North End Langaller side of roundabout near current 30 sign (Diag 3)

Hyde Lane Creech side of the motorway bridge (Diag 4)

Tone Bridge near Ham Road junction (Diag 5)

 

2 20 mph zone (Map 2) The Neighbourhood Plan policy for a 20 mph zone will be implemented for the village on roads between the village gateways. On St Michael Road this will extend the North End 20 mph limit to the Tone Bridge gateway. This will improve safety for pedestrians wishing to cross the road or using the footway over the canal and rail bridges.

3 Double Yellow Lines (Diag 6). Introduction of double yellow lines on St Michael Road from Hyde Lane junction to the chicane and at the entrance to Hyde Court between the shop and Arundells house.

4 Bollards opposite shop (Diag 7) Bollards to be realigned to increase width of footway.

5 Ryesland Way Junction (Diag 8) Realign the junction at Ryesland Way by use of road markings to also reduce the width of the carriageway and alter the curve on St Michael Road. This will help reduce speed of traffic and improve pedestrian safety on the footway opposite Ryesland Way.

6 Other proposals include removal of centre line on St Michael Road between the shop and Tone Bridge and place 20mph roundels on the carriageway of St Michael Road, Hyde Lane and West View.

Next Steps.

The Parish Council is hopeful that these proposals will meet with broad approval in the village. We have been waiting for a long time for action to be taken as traffic levels have grown.

The County Council will need to go through a formal legal process to set in place a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO). When the order is publicised you will have three weeks to respond to SCC with your views on the proposals. This report is advance notice of those draft proposals to give you more time to consider them and ask questions. Look out for more details on the Creech Facebook page and in the local paper where the TRO will be advertised.

Following consideration of views submitted, the County Council wishes to proceed quickly with the final set of proposals so that measures can be put in place to help deal with some of the effects of the expected growth in traffic through Creech.

Please let us have your initial views on what is being proposed before the TRO is published towards the end of the month. Let us know on Facebook or by email to the Parish Clerk and the team of Councillors who have been leading on transport matters for the Parish Council. Please get any comments to us by Monday 16th August.

Cllr Peter Brown pebcsmpc@hotmail.com

Cllr Charlie Cudlip charlie.cudlip@creechstmichael.net