Controversial road closures in the Groves have improved life in the neighbourhood – and should be made permanent.
That’s the recommendation in a report going to the City of York Council executive next week.
Temporary restrictions were enforced from September 2020, designed to close a rat-run of through traffic after consultations with residents.
Since then, traffic has “significantly reduced”, cycling has increased, air quality has improved, and more community activities have taken place, the report says.
However, there have been increases in traffic on surrounding roads including Lord Mayor’s Walk, Clarence Street, Haxby Road, Monkgate, Huntington Road, Haley’s Terrace and Dodsworth Avenue.
“The most significant increases in journey times are located on the Gillygate/
Clarence Street corridor and on Lord Mayor’s Walk,” says the report.
“This may not be due entirely to the trial as there is a gating scheme to control access to Gillygate at the junction and journey times have increased over the same period in other parts of the city.”
Drivers who used to cut through the Groves are seeing journey times increase by a maximum of eight minutes, council officers say.
And while air pollution has decreased in the Groves, changes in traffic flows “are likely to cause local air quality deterioration for residential and educational receptors located north and south of the scheme, along Haxby Road”.
Councillor Andy D’Agorne, executive member for transport at the council, said: “Three years of consultation with residents of the Groves has shown their ambition for a new approach to their local area and community.
“Before the implementation, the Groves had been used as a through-route for cars, causing much traffic, noise and pollution, which were overwhelming concerns expressed by residents.
“The scheme has demonstrated a significant reduction in motorised traffic in the Groves in general, increases in the number of cyclists travelling through the area and a general reduction in annual mean NO2 concentrations, within the wider context of improvements in York’s air quality in 2020.
“While such trials often impact on the traffic flow in surrounding streets, as is the case here, the significant improvements brought about by these restrictions have directly addressed the concerns expressed by the local residents and also given us valuable insight which will be used in the development of the future transport plans for the city.”
But Conservative Group leader Paul Doughty said: “The statement from their executive member for transport that ‘the scheme has demonstrated a significant reduction in traffic through the Groves’ is frankly laughable. What else do they expect when they shut the through roads?
“By their own admission and using their words not mine, their decision has ‘impact on the traffic flow on surrounding streets, as is the case here’.
“It’s not exactly rocket science! They are simply moving traffic congestion to remaining routes – and intend wasting another £80,000 of council taxpayers cash to do it!
“Residents and businesses who need to get around the city will be concerned that the council intends to permanently exacerbate congestion on the likes of Haxby Road, Wigginton Road, Clarence Street, Lord Mayors Walk and Gillygate through this decision.
“They are forcing residents and visitors away from the city by making it increasingly difficult to get around. Have they not seen all the empty city centre retail premises? The city centre needs help, not more reasons to go out of town or stay away.”
The executive meeting takes place on Thursday 13 January at 5.30pm and will be webcast live. You can read the documents here.