Exeter's Low Traffic Neighbourhood Scheme Faces Suspension Amid Controversy

Exeter's low traffic neighbourhood scheme, which closed through roads to car drivers, may be suspended due to significant community opposition. A report reveals 81% of respondents opposed the scheme, citing negative impacts on disabled people, health issues, and local school pupils.

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Nitish Verma
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Exeter's Low Traffic Neighbourhood Scheme Faces Suspension Amid Controversy

Exeter's Low Traffic Neighbourhood Scheme Faces Suspension Amid Controversy

Exeter's low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) scheme, which closes through roads to car drivers in Heavitree and Whipton, may be suspended due to significant opposition from the community, according to a report by Devon County Council. The scheme, which began on August 3, 2023, aimed to remove through traffic from residential areas to create a safer environment for pedestrians, cyclists, and wheelchair users.

Why this matters: The controversy surrounding Exeter's LTN scheme highlights the challenges of balancing environmental and health goals with the needs of local communities, and the importance of effective consultation and communication in urban planning decisions. As cities around the world grapple with similar issues, the outcome of thiscontroversial, traffic, scheme will have implications for the future of urban transportation and community engagement.

The report reveals that 81% of respondents, out of nearly 9,000, opposed the scheme, while only 19% supported it. It also highlights that the scheme has "significantly negatively impacted" the lives of disabled people, those with health issues, and pupils at a local special school. Monitoring data shows increased traffic volumes on boundary roads, reduced vehicle speeds, and some increases in delays experienced by buses. However, air quality data does not show any exceedances of hourly limits for nitrogen dioxide on key boundary roads.

The report recommends suspending the Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders associated with the scheme as soon as possible, presenting a detailed analysis of the feedback received through the consultation at the July committee meeting, and approving a budget increase to £250,000 from the Active Travel England Capability and Ambition Fund to accommodate additional activities associated with the controversial, traffic, scheme. Meg Booth, Director of Climate Change, Environment, and Transport, stated, "After considering the comments from local residents and partners, the analysis has demonstrated that some members of the community have found the trial beneficial... but a disproportionately higher number of the community have voiced that the trial has had a detrimental effect."

The scheme was originally scheduled to run for six months but was extended due to concerns raised about taxi and private hire vehicles. The trial has been funded by the Capability and Ambition Fund secured from Active Travel England, with an original budget of £190,000. Despite some positive outcomes, such as an increase in walking and cycling and reduced traffic volumes within the trial area, the overwhelming opposition from the community has led to the recommendation to suspend the scheme.

The report's findings and recommendations will be discussed at the next meeting of the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee (HATOC) on June 3, 2024. The committee will need to balance the opposing views of the local community, along with the evidence collected, to reach a final decision on the future of Exeter's low traffic neighbourhood scheme, which could be made as early as July.

Key Takeaways

  • Exeter's LTN scheme may be suspended due to 81% community opposition.
  • Scheme aimed to reduce through traffic, but impacted disabled people and local school.
  • Report recommends suspension, citing negative impact on community.
  • Scheme saw increased walking and cycling, but also increased traffic on boundary roads.
  • Final decision to be made by Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee in July.