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New temporary road layout agreed to support social distancing in Queen Street

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Temporary measures are to be introduced in Queen Street in Exeter to provide more space for pedestrians.

The Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee (HATOC) has today (Monday 14 December) approved the £75,000 scheme which will narrow the road to traffic, making it one-way (eastbound) between Paul Street and Northernhay Street. Iron Bridge will be made one way westbound from Paul Street to South of Dinham Road to mitigate the impact of the measures on the St Davids Hill community.

The changes follow a public consultation after concerns were raised over the lack of space for the number of people walking in Queen Street, making it difficult to follow government advice on social distancing. The majority of those who responded to the consultation agreed with the need for a scheme, and for changes to be made at Iron Bridge.

The scheme supported by councillors will reduce the carriageway between Northernhay Street and Paul Street to a single lane to enable more space for pedestrians on the narrowest section of Queen Street.

Temporary signals will be installed in Northernhay Street and the junction of Queen Street / Paul Street to enable two-way access for buses, taxis and cyclists. Cyclists will also be able to cycle in both directions on Iron Bridge.

Service vehicles will still be able to access Upper Paul Street and Queen Street South, but all vehicle access from Paul Street will be prohibited.

Photo of Councillor Stuart Hughes
Councillor Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “While the county continues to face pandemic restrictions it’s clear that additional space for pedestrians is needed on Queen Street while social distancing is still required. These temporary changes and widening the narrowest section of footway will provide a safer environment for the many different groups of people who access Queen Street, while maintaining access for public transport, taxis, cyclists and residents.”

Photo of Councillor Yvonne Atkinson
Councillor Yvonne Atkinson

Councillor Yvonne Atkinson, Chair of the Exeter HATOC Committee, said: “During these exceptional circumstances it is vital that the County Council does everything it can to support the businesses, residents, students and visitors of Queen Street and keep people safe. It’s an extremely well-used route and every effort has been made to balance the needs of all groups who need to access Queen Street. These measures address the concerns which have been raised through the consultation process.”

Photo of Councillor Carol Whittton
Councillor Carol Whitton

Councillor Carol Whitton, County Councillor for St David’s and Haven Banks, said: ““Local people are very concerned about overcrowding on the narrow pavements in Queen Street with some being afraid to use the Queen Street area due to lack of social distancing. Changes to make it more pedestrian friendly are urgently needed and we have to put the immediate safety of pedestrians on Queen Street at the top of the agenda. Unfortunately, any action on Queen Street will have repercussions for St David’s Hill but I am pleased that the temporary scheme we have agreed today will make the impact as minimal as possible.”

The temporary measures are expected to be introduced by Devon County Council early in the new year. They will be funded by the Government’s Active Travel Fund, supporting the County Council’s continued effort to encourage safe active travel in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The scheme allows flexibility to make further changes following public feedback if required, and the Exeter HATOC will review the measures in July.