Image credit: Tara Earley

Broad Street pedestrianisation project set to become permanent

The experimental Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) on Broad Street is set to become permanent following recommendations from Oxfordshire County Council officers.

The council plans to introduce permanent tactile paving and dropped kerbs if the permanent TRO is approved. The decision will be made by Cllr Andrew Gant, the Cabinet Member for Transport Management, at a meeting on Thursday 14 December.

The temporary TRO, part of a public realm scheme called the Broad Street Project, was approved in July 2022. The experimental period was agreed to last between autumn 2022 and spring 2024. The initiative was based on positive feedback from the transformation of part of the street into ‘Broad Meadow’ between July and October 2021.

When the 18-month trial scheme was first announced, Cllr Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said that the project would create “one of the city centre’s largest outdoor inclusive public spaces inviting people to meet and relax between shopping, grabbing a light meal, taking in the sights or to enjoy events that can be staged in the vibrant arts space it provides.”

The experimental TRO has cost Oxfordshire County Council £500,000 to implement, supported by £85,000 of developer funding. Any funds remaining from the initial budget have been recommended to be put towards the tactile paving and dropped kerbs.

The experimental TRO included a six-month consultation period to understand the impact and overall success of the scheme, including an online survey for local residents to fill out. More than 700 survey responses were received, with 60% of them stating that they ‘really liked’ or ‘generally liked’ the scheme.

However, some respondents had concerns about road safety on such a busy street, since the layout of the scheme provided minimal highway lines and signs for drivers to pay attention to. They also noted the frequency of larger vehicles such as buses and delivery vans passing through Broad Street.

These concerns were shared by the University’s colleges and associated organisations on or close to Broad Street, who submitted a consolidated letter to the consultation calling for the implementation of a traffic management plan.

Some responses to the online survey contained suggestions to improve the project in the future, including planting trees in the ground instead of in wooden planters and improving the quality of the furniture to match the surrounding buildings.

Both the three-month Broad Meadow scheme and the 18-month experimental TRO removed the availability of pay and display parking options on Broad Street. Oxford Clarion reported that Oxfordshire County Council will forgo £350,000 of annual revenue by removing the parking spaces, but plans to recoup some of those losses through event income.

Feedback from the consultation, in conjunction with monitoring and analysis from County Council officers, contributed to a report which will be considered in the meeting.

Image credits: via Tara Earley.

Image description: A shot of Broad Street’s new flower planters against a blue sky.