Social distancing measures could see Barnstaple Longbridge closed

Barnstaple Longbridge. Picture: Andy Keeble

Barnstaple Longbridge. Picture: Andy Keeble - Credit: Archant

Barnstaple Longbridge could be closed to traffic, and a one-way system for pedestrians is set to be introduced in Bideford and as part of a series of measures to improve social distancing for walkers and cyclists in North Devon.

Devon County Council (DCC) is expecting to receive £338,000 of emergency active travel funding from the Department for Transport, with the money primarily focusing on schemes for Barnstaple, Bideford, Exeter and Newton Abbot.

The ‘pop-up’ facilities will provide more space for those walking and cycling, as well as segregating them from traffic.

In Barnstaple, temporary restrictions will be introduced to extend the town centre’s pedestrianised area to support social distancing and improve cycling links.

The council said it is also discussing the possibility of closing the Longbridge to all traffic except buses, cycles and emergency vehicles.

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The scheme in Bideford will see a temporary one-way system introduced for pedestrians on narrow pavements and streets in the town centre. It will incorporate the Longbridge footpaths, and a temporary pedestrian crossing will be needed on the A386.

Sections of on-street parking in the High Street will be removed, and some disabled parking introduced in the High Street and Bridgeland Street.

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The road through Manor Park will be closed to provide extra space for pedestrians and pop-up cycle parking, as well as space for bus passengers to wait safely.

DCC said other market and coastal towns will have opportunities to benefit from a share of the funding.

The council has to submit its plans to the Department for Transport by Friday (June 5). The measures will have to be introduced within eight weeks of the funding being received.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “We’re as keen as everyone else to get on with this work and I appreciate that there is a lot of expectation, particularly as people will have seen the traffic order notices going up on some roads.

“As soon as contractors are available, we will be looking to get these temporary ‘pop-up’ measures in place.

“Unfortunately, there’s only a limited amount we can do with the initial payment of £338,000 but we want this funding to have the maximum possible impact to support active travel habits.

“A lot of work and planning is going into making sure we can submit a successful bid for further funding of £1.35 million that is potentially on offer to us, to make an even bigger difference in improving opportunities for walking and cycling.”

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