TO: THE RESIDENTS AND BUSINESSES OF WHITCHURCH AND SURROUNDING VILLAGES

FROM:(Tony Corbin – Town Project Officer HCC for and on behalf of Whitchurch Association (Traffic Management Section)

8th March 2006

HAMPSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL – HGV SURVEY REPORT

Dear All,

This is to let you know that the long awaited Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) survey report from Keith Pauw (HCC Area Manager North & West - Traffic Management Group) has now been printed and is available for inspection at the Town Hall.

A condensed electronic version (PDF) is also available here on the website (click here). However, before you set out to download what is very much a technically oriented document, the WA and Town Council members thought it might, first of all, be helpful to consider the following:

Main Results

Lorries (Heavy Goods Vehicles) are very visible to anyone walking the pavements in the Town – and especially so for those who live on the Town’s main thoroughfares. However, the actual volumes in and around Whitchurch transpire (in national terms) to be quite low and neither are volumes significantly increasing. The same cannot of course be said for individual vehicle weights or size – a consequence of national/EC legislation.

Furthermore, the survey has unfortunately revealed that the vast majority of the vehicles that you all see (even those with non UK registration plates!) are actually on legitimate local delivery or collection business.

Out of a total of 240 lorry movements (emanating from 148 vehicles of 7.5 tonnes or greater) observed travelling ‘through’ Market Square (between 7 am and 7pm on the day of the survey (26th April 2005) literally, only a handful were recorded as not delivering locally (e.g. ‘rat running’).

The results of the survey should be reliable given that there were a total of nine survey points (see section three of the report for locations) from Andover in the West to Worting Road (Basingstoke) in the East. North/South vehicle movement was also tracked and recorded.

The survey observations also revealed:

• Multiple collection and drop off points
• A steady pattern in vehicle volumes throughout the 7am to 7pm period of observation (N.B. it is car volumes that show peaks and troughs!)
• Varying lorry volumes along the length of the B3400
• Highest volumes in Whitchurch occur in Winchester Road followed by London Road and Newbury Street

What are the Options now?

Regrettably, based on the findings, it is highly unlikely that any external funding will be applied to such as diversionary measures. It has to be remembered too that any such actions could negatively impact many businesses and thereby prosperity and employment opportunities in the town. So, what might be the options available?

Here are just a few of the ideas that have been considered by Whitchurch Association and Town Council Members and their likely impact. You might have some creative ideas of your own, which if you do, we would love to hear from you (just click…)

1. Deter Heavy Goods Vehicles – If the Highways Agency agrees, it might be possible to erect Brown Tourist signboards on the North and Southbound carriageways of the A34. These would highlight Whitchurch as an ‘Ancient and Historic Market Town’ and include food, petrol, tourist, accommodation facility symbols. To this could be added the advisory words ‘narrow, winding streets, unsuitable to HGVs’. The issue is of course the cost.

Although it is possible that the Whitchurch Association (in collaboration with the Town Council) might attract ‘Town centre revitalisation’ funds this year in excess of £100,000, the brown tourist type signage is in the order of £10-12k per sign, including new safety post requirements. There is also a long decision lead-time, two years is not uncommon.

So the question is, would it be appropriate to use of part of the anticipated external 'Town centre revitalisation' funds for this purpose? Clearly such a move could bring much-needed additional visitors to the town…and of course, visitors (tourists) spend money and could help the Town Centre to thrive!

2. Re-aligning of the 'lorry sign' on A34 – the aim of this idea is to more clearly indicate that HGV vehicle exit from the A34 should be via the Lichfield turn off to access the Evingar Road. Preliminary investigations suggest this would not be supported by the Highways Agency (apparently not permissible within the Regulations).

You may however have noticed that following lobbying that has included support from Sir George Young; a ‘no northbound access to A34’ sign has now been erected on the Southern entry to the Town. This should reduce such as wrong vehicle routing to such as Tufton. A North ‘on-slip’ back onto the A34 is thought to be unlikely.

3. Forced routing of vehicles to Evingar Road via Lichfield off slip – this would be coupled with ‘no access’ signage at the Tufton exit from the A34. However, the guidance received suggests it would be difficult to police and would be a major cost issue for hauliers as the diversion is some 5 or 6 miles each way (cost of running an HGV is circa £2 per mile).

Another factor is the wide usage of GPS navigation among lorry drivers and their employers, which would further negate any advantages of such signs

4. Traffic Lights at the 5 junctions adjacent to Market Square. Whilst possibly helping HGV/Bus turn Newbury St/London St and vic a versa, the idea would potentially compromise pedestrian safety, detrimentally impact the conservation area (thru as many as 15 traffic signal poles and road markings!); further delay vehicles and pedestrians and increase pollution

On the other hand, the limited term parking areas on Newbury Street and London Road could be moved north and east respectively by approximately 50 mtrs. This would help alleviate delays and could be part of the proposed BDBC led local Traffic Management work/proposals. Complete removal of the parking facilities would risk negatively impacting local businesses

5. Additional Pedestrian Crossings - To encourage walking and make pedestrian use of the town centre easier - and HGV driver's life harder by making them consider alternative routes! - there may be an argument to install formal pedestrian crossings on Church street and Bell Street, with associated road markings and beacons. This would make access to and use of the town's shops much more convenient and enjoyable with the crossing of roads made safer

Whilst we fondly would like to think most Whitchurch residents already give way to pedestrians crossing at these junctions - and find little inconvenience in doing so - at present, you don't know until you look into someone's eyes whether they will or won't let you cross! What do you think?

6. Education – there is perhaps an opportunity, as a community, to write to the hauliers (named in the survey) drawing their attention to the difficulties caused by HGVs in the town.

The letter could include a request for journeys to be made if possible, out of peak car movement time and where possible in smaller vehicles. A copy of such a letter could go to local businesses in the area to raise their awareness of the problem. A separate, more strongly worded letter could go the few hauliers, where it appears, from the survey, that 'rat running' took place.