Transport issues

Shrewsbury Town Centre Traffic

In November 2014 John Whitelegg, Professor of Sustainable Transport at York University, spoke at our AGM. The room was packed to bursting. You can see the details of his talk on this website.

Following that, we set up a Traffic Group with colleagues from Bus Users Shropshire to discuss how best to press for improvements to the traffic situation in the town centre.

There are problems which must be addressed. The town already gets choked at times with cars moving bumper to bumper. Shrewsbury’s population is going to grow with edge-of-town developments and a new university, and strenuous efforts are being made to bring in more visitors. The town is an air quality management area because nitrogen dioxide levels exceed European standards – which is very harmful to health, particularly for the under-5s.

We know, because of research across the UK, that town centre shopping habits have changed. People now go to towns to wander around, have a coffee, look in shop windows etc. They want a relaxed, calm environment in which to do this – and if they get it, they spend. This would be good for retailers, leisure provision, cafes etc.

So a reduction in traffic would be positive all round – if it’s done properly.

Following several months of discussion we came up with a 2-part proposal.

Install signage on all the approach roads to Shrewsbury. This would direct traffic around town to destinations beyond; and local traffic to Park & Ride and near-side car parks (using real-time information so that drivers know that there are spaces etc)

 Close High Street, Mardol Head and Shoplatch to all vehicles except buses, bicycles and mobility scooters from 10am to 3pm Monday to Saturday.

You can read the full details of the proposal here.

A couple of months ago, Shropshire Council announced that it was expecting to receive funding from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership to help address the through-traffic problems. They intend to use it to install signs and to make improvements to the ring road so that cars can more easily circuit the town. The plan is to hold a big consultation in the autumn.

This seemed to us to be in tune with the first part of our proposal. So we decided to send the Council our document, which is entitled “The Time is Right”, and request that our proposal be included in the consultation.
You may have seen in the local press that they have been positive about this suggestion.

Worries have been expressed about the traffic shifting to Town Walls if High Street is closed. This would clearly not be good. But our proposal that High Street be closed is based on an assumption that through-traffic throughout Shrewsbury would already have been greatly reduced by means of the signage etc.

We have had a meeting with the main group of residents who are anxious about Town Walls, and with Shrewsbury Town Centre Residents Assoc. We feel that it was a positive discussion and we hope that it will lead to more ideas being submitted to the Council for inclusion in the consultation.