Issue details

Town Centre Social Distancing Measures

On 26th May 2020 Government announced that from 15 June 2020 some non-essential shops were able to re-open provided they were able to do so safely. The Council therefore needed to undertake an assessment and put in measures to support safe opening in the town centre. The Government issued guidance to enable Councils to prepare for the safe re-opening in Urban Centres and Green Spaces. “HM Government: Coronavirus (COVID 19): Safer Public Places – Urban Centres and Green Spaces”

A team of officers from across service areas undertook an assessment process to identify constraints and the measures that needed to be implemented across the town centre based on the national guidance. The overriding principle in designing and implementing the measures was public health considerations and ensuring business could re-open safely.

This included a range of measures such as:
- signing and floor markings
- queue management systems and engagement with town centre business.
- relocation of market stalls
- re-design of bus services and bus stops
- reallocation of road space to people walking and cycling, both to encourage active travel and to enable social distancing during restart.

This required a rapid assessment process, organising of resources, legal work and implementation within a very short time frame. Most of the measures above are planned to be implemented ahead of 15 June to support a safe re-opening of the town centre. However, the measures for reallocation of road space need to be implemented in phases as a result of timing of the supply of materials to deliver the measures.
Phase 1 – Town Centre, Imperial Quarter and some queue management guidance in Duke St, bus stop and provison re-design, relocation of market stalls
Phase 2 – Duke Street – Social Distancing space measures.

All measures will be kept under continuous review and where possible modified. However, the overriding principle in designing and implementing the measures is public health considerations and the circumstances are likely to change over the coming weeks/months.

Financial/staffing/health & safety (incl virus transmission risks)/service delivery impacts/other risks and impacts considered:

The measures were implemented to reduce transmission risks in the town centre and on public transport.

The funding of some of the measures was included in a bid to the DFT Active Travel Emergency Fund, where footpath widening, and reallocation of road space was encouraged to retain social distancing.

Impacts on businesses were considered in terms of suspension of parking spaces but public health was considered a higher priority and free parking remained available very close to locations suspended and remained free.

Loading provision and disabled parking places were considered and some were able to be retained in temporary locations.

The necessary legal orders were processed to implement the changes.

Equality Impacts:

An initial screening exercise identified that there would potentially be impacts on some people with protected characteristics, specifically on the basis of age, disability, pregnancy and maternity and carers.

Due to the emergency situation, changing guidance/advice/legislation a full EIA has not been completed. Instead a more dynamic approach was proposed with consideration being given to any changes when proposed. As many of the decisions will be regarding the physical environment we will work with Gordon Pybus from DAD, but not on the basis of a full consultation. This advice and guidance has informed the decision making and proposed mitigation.

There have been discussions with DAD regarding detailed plans for bus stops, bus services, suspension of parking bays (including the relocation of disabled parking bays) and footway widening. DAD has provided additional guidance from RNIB.

Following implementation of the social distancing measures we have committed to respond to issues raised such as enforcement of the restrictions and providing further information on the timing for key mitigation such as the installation of temporary dropped kerbs.

In addition some of the plans regarding cycling will be discussed with Darlovelo in relation to cycle provision.

Decision type: Non-key

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Notice of proposed decision first published: 23/11/2020

Decision due: 26 May 2020 by Assistant Director Transport and Capital Projects

Contact: Dave Winstanley, Assistant Director Transport and Capital Projects Email: [email protected].

Consultation process

Ian Williams, Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services.
Councillor Mrs Heather Scott, Councillor Keir and Councillor Marshall were consulted and supported the proposals. Their views were considered in developing the plan and that they would be consulted upon any modifications.