North Berwick Coastal Area Partnership has announced that a series of measures will be tested to enhance pedestrian safety, accessibility and improve parking.
The measures will be tested in and around the east end of North Berwick High Street.
The proposals, agreed by the North Berwick Charrette implementation group, include the widening of pavements by applying a low level kerb, the introduction of 30 minute short stay parking on the High Street, the re-designation of long stay spaces in Law road car park to short stay 90 minute no return, and the creation of additional parking spaces for public use on Quality Street.
The measures are expected to result in greater turnover of parking spaces in the town centre. This enhanced parking provision is expected to significantly increase the availability of short stay parking spaces.
It follows North Berwick Coastal Area Partnership bringing together a working group which included representatives from the North Berwick Coastal Area Partnership’s ‘On the Move’ group, local traders, North Berwick Community Council, cycleforth, members of the community and East Lothian Council. This group has been meeting over the last 18 months to help implement the recommendations arising from the successful 2017 North Berwick Town Centre Charrette consultation.
The proposals have also been informed by an event held last May, when more than 600 people attended to give their views about plans to improve the east end of the High Street.
It is now expected that East Lothian Council will prepare a draft Experimental Traffic Regulation Order for consultation, which would pave the way for the proposals to be introduced on a trial basis for up to 12 months, during which time the council will monitor the effectiveness of the measures. It is hoped the Order could be implemented from Spring 2020.
Hilary Smith, Chair of the North Berwick Area Partnership, said:
"We are committed to making North Berwick town centre more accessible, safer and a more pleasant place to be for everyone. The North Berwick Town Centre Charrette, held in 2017, provided us with a roadmap to address some of the issues faced by our busy High Street.
“While the High Street is a fantastic place to live, work or visit, its narrowness at points can be challenging for some pedestrians, particularly with close proximity to vehicles.
“After nearly 18 months of deliberation, the North Berwick Charrette implementation group has agreed that it would be appropriate to test the effectiveness of a number of measures aimed at enhancing the east end of the High Street for the benefit of all users. In doing so, we want to enhance the local environment and help support the economy.
“These improvements are being led by local people who have worked together to put things in place. The charrette showed what the community wants from its town centre - our goal is to provide it.
“With the agreement of East Lothian Council, we intend to test the acceptability of these interventions for up to a year.
“Before putting these into place, we’re inviting everyone with an interest – including local businesses, residents and all users of the town centre – to attend an upcoming drop-in event, where there will be an opportunity to see the plans for themselves.”
Date: Thursday, 27 February
Time: 4pm to 7pm
Location: North Berwick Community Centre (small hall), Law Road, North Berwick EH39 4PN
Comments on the measures
Robin McEwan, a member of the implementation group and cycle forth, said:
“cycleforth welcomes the announcement of experimental changes for traffic at the east end of the High Street. cycleforth has been campaigning for some years for a pedestrian priority scheme here but accepted the NB Charrette’s conclusions for pavement widening and removal of traffic as a moving in the right direction.
“The scheme now announced is a further compromise but cycleforth expects that users of the High Street will still welcome the changes as bringing significant improvements, providing a safer and more pleasant environment. We are confident the experiment will be a success and lead to further changes to improve the traffic environment in the High Street and further afield.”
Christiane Maher, a member of North Berwick Community Council and the implementation group, said:
"I am hoping the solution we found will make the High Street a much nicer place for pedestrians, while not unduly disadvantaging those who depend on getting to the High Street by car."
Kirsty Towler, another member of the implementation group, added:
“I think that the views of everyone matter - that’s why the charrette was important. It looked at getting a community conversation going. The changes take account of all sectors of the community and the focus is on safety and wellbeing for all. We need to be a considerate community - considerate of all of the diverse range of needs of visitors and residents (whether new or old) and of business and the local economy.
“I think a great deal has been achieved in getting a compromise. I wish it had not taken so long. But it is a milestone, a significant achievement, and one which is hoped will make life safer and more pleasant for all groups in the eastern section of the High Street.”