In recent weeks, the Leader has been contacted by several local businesses who are concerned that the new 18-month trial parking scheme in town will have a devastating effect on their livelihoods - the most recent in Wednesday April 6’s edition.
The scheme, which originally included the removal of on-street parking on Mercer Row and the widening of pedestrian footways as part of an Active Travel Plan to make walking and cycling easier, has now seen it remove barriers and planters on Monday and only close off access to the Cornmarket.
In new information released, the county council has reminded people that the Active Travel scheme in Louth is about “enabling the beautiful market town to become a destination for residents and visitors where they can enjoy shopping in an open space, the existing café culture and the unique aesthetics of the area”.
Councillor Richard Davies, executive member for highways at LCC, said: “There are many obvious benefits to Louth in terms of Active Travel and the benefits it brings. But it’s vital that everyone involved, either directly or indirectly, understands and keeps in mind that this is a trial scheme that will evolve and develop over the next 18 months.
“During that time we will listen, very closely, to what residents and businesses tell us. The Active Travel scheme is not about making sweeping changes at a cost to established businesses and the needs of the town, but more about creating an improved relationship between people and the places they are encouraged to visit.
“We want to continue working with the people of Louth to make this scheme the very best it can be and bring to life a sustainable programme for the future of the town.”
Here’s the county council’s five top things to know about the Active Travel Scheme in Louth:
1: In the beginning
Over 500 people responded to the public consultation for the Active Travel Scheme in 2021 with 64% of those supportive of the scheme, 27% expressing a negative view and the rest being neutral.
The ideas and propositions behind the scheme were discussed with the county councillor, local businesses and then LCC consulted with the Town Council before formulating plans for the trial scheme.
Local press and the LCC website were then used to further engagement about the proposition. As a result of that public engagement, the scheme was changed to remove two other proposed closures during the trial period.
2: Changes to the area
Previously on Mercer Row, there were three disabled and four standard bays. These disabled bays have now been switched to the marketplace to give further access to banks and encourage engagement with the café culture in the area during non-market days.
This means that there will be more disabled parking available than there is currently it and turns Mercer Row into the central access point to the pedestrian space to feed businesses and services in the area.
As part of the pedestrianised plan’s development, LCC is going use innovative ‘Parklet’ units which combines large planters and specialised seating areas in an aesthetically pleasing way. These attractive seating areas will bring extra useability, making the most of the space available to encourage pedestrians to stop and rest.
3: The current cost
According to a current study, the cost of driving a car in the UK is 47p per mile – and that’s being as economical as possible. If you look at that as part of the cost of having to repeatedly drive around Louth looking for a free parking space, it’s easy to understand that a resident could easily have already spent the cost of parking in any of Louth’s £1-an-hour current parking areas in the time it could take to find a short-stay space.
4: Louth disabled and free parking
This link shows the location of current disabled and other free parking provision currently around Louth Town Centre.
5: Boosting the area
It is often assumed that more parking is the answer to struggling high streets, but this is not supported by available research. Studies have linked the quality of public spaces to people’s perceptions of attractiveness of an area, contributing towards their quality of life and influencing where they shop. Pedestrianisation can bring additional social benefits to urban centres – including boosts in economic activity.
Studies from the UK found an increase in trading of up to 40 percent across a number of pedestrianised sites.
In addition to the benefits of the pedestrianised area, and the encouragement of cycling and walking in the centre of Louth, general air quality is likely to improve.
As a result of the reduction in car use, areas with active travel schemes have seen a drop in CO2 emissions of up to 70 percent.
Studies have shown that lower CO2 emissions benefit those suffering with breathing conditions such as Asthma and Emphysema and are a contributing factor in childhood development.