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High Street feedback


Feedback September 2020

As part of the monitoring and review process for the new street layout in the High Street, officers from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, along with representatives from Royal Tunbridge Wells Together BID and volunteers from the Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Forum residents’ group, visited 54 businesses in the High Street/Castle Street to ask for their feedback on the scheme. At the same time, the views of 50 pedestrians/shoppers in the High Street were also canvassed. This note summarises the feedback collected on 10 September.

Business views

Of the businesses we spoke to, 25 supported the scheme, 13 did not and 16 were undecided. The main concerns raised included the following:

  • deliveries to businesses are proving difficult and also waste collections create congestion
  • barriers are very unsightly, collect dirt and are too easy to move out of place
  • more car parking is needed for this part of the town (although no parking has been lost as a result of the scheme)
  • signage relating to the scheme should be improved/made clearer

Generally speaking, businesses were content with the northbound flow of the one-way scheme. We had some feedback about congestion in the area, but this was not raised as a major issue by those we spoke to.

Positive feedback about the scheme included the following:

  • traffic speeds have been reduced
  • the environment is more pleasant
  • benefits for the hospitality industry are clear (more outdoor seating)

When asked if businesses would be more supportive of the scheme if the red and white barriers were replaced with planters or parklets (see images below) the majority said yes.

Pedestrian/shopper views

Of the pedestrians/shoppers questioned 36 supported the scheme, 10 did not and 6 were undecided. The main reasons for the support were:

  • less traffic and easier to cross the road
  • more room for social distancing on the pavements
  • more space for outdoor eating and drinking

When asked how they would like the scheme improved the most frequent responses were:

  • pedestrianise the whole street
  • improve the appearance of the barriers
  • provide more car parking
  • provide more outdoor seating

Next steps

Following this feedback, the council is now exploring options to address the concerns raised by businesses, in particular:

  • replacement of the red and white barriers (perhaps through the introduction of parklets and/or planters – see below);
  • accommodating delivery vehicles; and
  • improving signing for the scheme.

The council will continue to monitor the operation of the scheme in the meantime.

A picture of parklets and planters in a UK high streetA picture of planters in a UK high street

Images of parklets and planters in UK high streets.

We are sorry if we missed you when we visited the High Street. Where possible, we took email addresses to send out feedback forms. However, if you have any further views about the scheme (of support, objection or concern) please email us at: businesscovid19@tunbridgewells.gov.uk.

In response to Covid-19, the government allocated £1.6 million of funding to Kent County Council to implement Emergency Active Travel schemes across the county including the scheme in the High Street. The changes are intended to enable people to maintain social distancing and to queue safely for shops, to allow hospitality businesses to place more tables and chairs outside their premise and to encourage walking and cycling.