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Traffic Orders

London Inn Square Improvements

Improving Exeter city centre:

Changes to Sidwell Street and New North Road junction (“London Inn Square”)

London Inn Square

Aspirational image taken from the Exeter City Centre Vision document


Exeter has one of the fastest growing economies in the country and central to this is a thriving, vibrant city centre which attracts people for retail, leisure and cultural activities. Despite the recession, which has seen many high streets suffer across the country, Exeter continues to be a successful shopping centre.

A recent survey revealed that around 22,000 pedestrians per day cross between the High Street and Sidwell Street. The existing road-dominated junction, known as London Inn Square, acts as a physical barrier between the main shopping area and Sidwell Street. This will become more of an issue with continuing growth of the city and the arrival of the popular retailer John Lewis on the site of the vacant Debenhams building.

The award winning Princesshay development has helped successfully regenerate Bedford Square, and there are major opportunities to create a more pleasant environment in the London Inn Square area for the increasing numbers of people arriving on foot, by cycle and by bus. At the same time, it is important that the road network is able to function efficiently.

What are our aims for the city centre?

We want an appealing city centre where people working, shopping, dining, walking and cycling can easily access the places they want to get to.

People should be able to enjoy their surroundings without concerns about crossing busy roads, or being subjected to poor air quality caused by cars and lorries which need not be in the middle of the city. Devon County Council and Exeter City Council’s joint aims for the London Inn Square improvements are to:

  • Create a safe and attractive environment for an increased number of pedestrians in a busy part of the city
  • Improve the quality and reliability of public transport to make it a more attractive option for getting into the city
  • Reduce the impact of cross city traffic in the main shopping area, while ensuring the rest of the road network operates safely and efficiently
  • Re-connect the Sidwell Street shopping area to the High Street and Princesshay.
  • Ensure that the new John Lewis store enhances the trading environment for existing businesses in the High Street, Sidwell Street and city centre.
  • Enhance the standing of Exeter city centre as a important visitor and shopping destination

The proposed scheme

Our proposal is to extend the existing oneway traffic system across Paris Street into New North Road. This would enable the pavements outside John Lewis opposite Waterstones to be widened, and the road to be narrowed to single carriageway making it much easier for pedestrians to cross. Traffic in Sidwell Street between High Street and Cheeke Street will be restricted to authorised vehicles, with the on-street parking taken out of this section. This would make it a better environment for pedestrians and would reduce delays for buses and improve journey time reliability through the city centre.

Sidwell Street would also see some changes to improve the layout of the taxi rank and bus stop locations. New trees and other improvements to the look of the area would also be made, such as new paving and seating.

King William Street car park will also be enhanced with improved lighting, more attractive links to Sidwell Street and installation of 'pay on foot' ticketing to make this car park more appealing to shoppers using Sidwell Street and John Lewis.

Benefits of the scheme

The main benefits of the scheme will be:

  • Better pedestrian accessibility – ease of crossing the road and reduced conflict with vehicles
  • Improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists
  • A more pleasant local environment in Sidwell Street
  • Improved bus journey times and reliability
  • Provision of a high quality taxi rank close to the High Street and John Lewis
  • Air quality improved
  • Better links between High Street and Sidwell Street – and an enhanced trading environment  for businesses
  • Opportunities for improving the public realm and the overall quality of the city centre

Key facts

  • Sidwell St/ Paris St has seen 20 collisions in a 3 year period (14 involving pedestrians)
  • 22,000 pedestrians cross the road between High St and Sidwell St daily
  • 1000 buses cross Paris St between High St and Sidwell St daily

Where will the vehicles go?

Detailed surveys were carried out which asked drivers using New North Road where they started and ended their journeys. This helped predict which routes cross-city traffic would use in the future and what the impact on the St James’ and St Davids’ residential areas would be.

Around half of the existing traffic turning left into Sidwell Street is expected to divert onto Blackall Road and York Road. Our analysis found that a high number of journeys, particularly travelling across the city from St David’s Station, Crediton and Tiverton are likely to choose alternative routes earlier on in their journey, with traffic distributed onto a number of other routes.

To complement the improvements at London Inn Square, we are designing a package of traffic-management measures. Firstly, to encourage drivers crossing the city to use more appropriate roads such as Bonhay Road and Western Way and secondly, to lessen the impact of the remaining cross-city traffic that transfers to Blackall Road and York Road.

Local signage and city centre routeing for HGVs will be revised. Signage will be changed to encourage shoppers to use car parks best suited to the route they are travelling into the city on, rather than crossing the city to park.

A range of measures are being investigated to help manage any additional traffic by widening the footway, improving crossing points and keeping traffic speeds down in the York Road area. We are also looking at adjusting the signal timings and banning the right turns from York Road and Summerland Street onto Sidwell Street to increase the 'green time' available for York Road traffic. This will help minimise delays at the junction with Sidwell Street.

Engaging with the community

During September and early October, we have spoken to local businesses, taxi and bus companies, residents and local community organisations such as schools and places of worship. The purpose of the meetings was to make people aware of the scheme and discuss local issues that need to be considered as part of the proposals. Meetings are also being held with Living Options (the local organisation which exists to ensure people with physical and/or sensory disabilities can make an active and equal contribution in society).

Whilst the many people expressed concern about additional traffic using the alternative routes as a result of the proposed changes it was widely recognised that the proposals will create significant benefits to pedestrians, cyclists and bus users. Alternative options such as returning Paris Street to 2-way traffic, creating a bridge over New North Road/Paris Street for pedestrians or using King William Street as an alternative route were raised and have been considered.

Following these meetings proposals for London Inn Square and York Road have been revised and finalised incorporating ideas put forward by the community.


The proposals for the London Inn Square and the York Road Areas were formally advertised from 19 December 2011 until 12 January 2012. These formal traffic orders are necessary to implement the changes agreed with the community.

The comments and objections submitted were reported to the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee on 2 February 2012. The committee resolved to relax the loading restrictions in Sidwell Street from 6pm to 4pm.

As the scheme progressed, additional parking changes were identified in Queens Crescent and a raised table was proposed at the junction of Oxford Road and York Road. These proposals were formally advertised from 22 March until 13 April 2012. No objections were received to these additional proposals.

You can view the details of the advertised orders by clicking on the advert or draft order link in the documents column below or you can view the summary of proposals by street.

Reference Description Documents
Advert Document for all proposals

(Pedestrian Zones)

Devon County Council (Sidwell Street Area, Exeter) (Traffic Regulation) Order*


(20mph Zone)

Devon County Council (Various Roads, Exeter) (20mph Zones & Limits) Order*


(Moving Restrictions)

Devon County Council (City Centre Area, Exeter) (Traffic Regulation) Order*


(Parking Restrictions)

Devon County Council (Sidwell Street Area, Exeter) (Traffic Regulation & On-Street Parking Places) Amendment Order

Traffic Calming & Pedestrian Crossings

Devon County Council (Queens Crescent, Exeter) (Parking Places) Amendment Order


Raised Table at York Road / Oxford Road Junction

* For ease of future reference the draft traffic regulation orders contain existing restrictions to ultimately provide one order that will include the restrictions over a larger area


Works are now complete and the proposed restrictions have come into force within the traffic regulation orders listed below.

Reference Description Documents
5237 Devon County Council (Sidwell Street Area, Exeter) (Traffic Regulation) Order 2012
5238 Devon County Council (Various Roads, Exeter) (20mph Zones & Limits) Order 2012
5240 Devon County Council (York Road Area, Exeter) (Traffic Regulation & On-Street Parking Places) Amendment Order 2012
5252 Devon County Council (Sidwell Street Area, Exeter) (Parking Places) Amendment Order 2012
5281 Devon County Council (City Centre Area, Exeter) (Traffic Regulation) Order 2012

More details on the implementation of the scheme can be found on the Exeter City Council website.