COVID-19 Safer Public Spaces –
Market Place Pedestrianisation & Survey

Safer Public Spaces

In order to facilitate better social distanced areas within the Market Place and to encourage a safer environment for visiting businesses in the town, Wantage Town Council, following the Government’s Guidance for COVID-19: Safer Public Spaces – Urban Centres and Green Spaces, introduced the pedestrianisation of the Western End of the Market Place on Saturday 4th July as an emergency measure.  This is now a temporary implementation for 18 months during COVID-19.

Survey (Please complete the Survey)

A consultation survey, which can be accessed here, is being undertaken about the closure of the Western End and also asking opinion about further temporary pedestrianisation.  Your input on the survey will assist the Town Council on whether we seek to implement the full plan or just stay with the Western End for now.  The survey will run until midnight 31 October 2020.

Pedestrianisation Plan

Wantage Town Council has created a plan to improve on social distanced areas within the Market Place as a whole, make the area safer for the public to visit and to engage with local businesses.   The plan, which is much more complex than just closing the Western End, involves bus services, highways, disabled parking, parking and taxi availability.  The plan was submitted to Oxfordshire County Council asking for comment and guidance.  Having received comment from OCC we have made the plan public.

Outline of Plan

  • South side of Market Place closed to unauthorised traffic.
  • Two-way traffic on North side of Market Place with 20 mph speed limit.
  • Buses and Taxis to be accommodated in Eastern end of Market Place.
  • Pedestrian area to be extended to cover the highway on Southern side of Market Place from Western end to crossing by Statue and up towards the Bell Public House.
  • Car park to West of statue to remain open but 3 parking spaces designated for the disabled leaving 11 (30 minute) parking spaces for general public.
  • No Access to and from Market Place to Newbury Street.
  • Newbury Street from Market Place to Post Office Lane pedestrianised (2 disabled parking spaces).

Plan in PDF Format

Overall

Western End

Market Place Centre (Bus version)

Car Park (Image Version)

Bus/Taxi Area (Image Version)

Newbury Street

 

Opening Wantage Town Centre Safely

The Council and its staff would like residents to be assured that we are working hard behind the scenes to find ways, in line with Government policy, of creating a town centre environment that feels safe to all potential users.

The closure of the western end of the Market Place has been welcomed and enjoyed by many and we are liaising with those who have raised concerns.

Following discussion with various interested parties, detailed plans for a larger closure have been drawn up  and submitted. Further discussions are ongoing and the Council will let you know as soon as they can what the next steps will be. Please keep checking the Council website for updates.

We take this opportunity to give a huge thank you to all our residents who are doing their best to keep each other safe in these challenging times

New Bike Stands in Wantage

New Bicycle Stands have been installed around the Market Place and at the Bus Stop at the Charlton Road Roundabout to encourage cycling within the town.

 

UPDATE – Wantage is opening safely

The Town Council has taken on board the comments and concerns about the proposal to temporarily close the southern side of the Market Place from 12 July, with the loss of parking spaces. It is still keen to proceed with a scheme that provides more pedestrian space in the Market Place and assists social distancing.

Over the coming week the Town Clerk will be working with highway officers to consider how any loss of parking spaces can be reduced and determine how other concerns, including disabled parking, taxi parking, bus stops and loading/unloading can be addressed. This will also involve consulting with those that have expressed concerns. As a result the introduction of a scheme in the centre of the Market Place may be delayed. It is still planned to temporarily pedestrianise the area to the west of the Market Place, (in front of Marmalade, 30 Something and The King Alfred’s Head) from 4 July.

The Town Council is acutely aware both of the government’s desire that local authorities should take steps to ensure that opportunities for social distancing in our high streets are maximised and at the same time the need to support local retail and hospitality businesses who have been so badly hit during the lock down.  There remain a significant number of people who are anxious about leaving their homes let alone visiting the shops.  The more the Town Council can do to allay these fears by creating more and safer pedestrian space the better it will be for footfall in our Market Place and beyond.

The Town Council does wish to do the best for the town in these difficult times and would welcome thoughts or ideas on how best to provide additional temporary pedestrian space without losing too many parking spaces. As previously advised, please e mail: clerk@wantagetowncouncil.gov.uk with suggestions.

Wantage is opening – safely

Following the easing of the pandemic lockdown, the Government has tasked all Local Authorities to implement temporary measures to reopen their Town Centres and High Streets as safely as possible, and to make them more attractive and welcoming for pedestrians and cyclists. These temporary measures could last up to eighteen months.

The first step to facilitate safe use of the town centre will be to temporarily pedestrianise the area to the west of the Market Place, (in front of Marmalade, 30 Something and The King Alfred’s Head) that has been used many times for town events such as Wantage Brass and the Continental Day, and has tremendous potential for events and other uses. The long term aim is to  seek permanent pedestrianisation of this area. The temporary closure provides a test of the obstacles and issues that may need to be overcome to accommodate this. The temporary closure will proceed on 4 July.

In order to enable everyone to maintain social distancing we also plan to close the southern side  of the Market Place, along the lines that many will remember from when the fair was held for the twenty years up to 2015, with two-way traffic on the north side of the Market Place. This will be a temporary change but the Town Council will be consulting on various options to fine tune these changes.  It will also give everyone the chance to think about how they feel about longer term pedestrianisation in the town centre. Please note that during this closure all buses and coaches will have their routes diverted to use the bus stops in Seesen Way, or to alternative locations for picking up and putting down.  Taxis will relocate to Newbury Street. This closure will proceed on 12 July. We will be engaging directly with Grundon and Biffa to ensure waste services can collect. If you are using a different waste collection service, could you please advise?

To make the town centre more cyclist friendly, new cycle racks will be installed in various locations in the Market Place over the next few weeks.

Andrea Yates, the Town Centre Manager, and other members of the Council team, will be engaging with businesses and the public in and around the Market Place over the next few days to deal with any questions or queries. The team will be actively working with those affected by the closure to sort out ways of accommodating deliveries and collections.  If you would like someone to visit or call you, to discuss these arrangements, please email: clerk@wantagetowncouncil.gov.uk.  The Town Council does intend to conduct a survey, seeking views on this and future arrangements. More information on this will be published shortly.