Call to bring buses back to Chippenham's High Street
A bid to open Chippenham High Street to buses has outraged town councillors.
The main street is currently closed to all traffic between 9.30am and 7.30pm.
But Wiltshire Council’s Transport Strategy for Chippenham, which works to support the Wiltshire Core Strategy, endorses re-routing buses down the street during times when it is normally pedestrianised.
Its report also suggests the town’s bus station might be replaced by High Street bus stops.
The town council said it would be writing to the inspector leading the core strategy inquiry to outline its concerns.
Linda Packard, who chairs the town council’s planning committee, said allowing access to buses would affect the safety of pedestrians, and that town councillors were especially concerned about the disruption to the market. She said: “On a Saturday and Sunday it is a very nice environment on the High Street.
“How can we have a market there if you’ve got buses going up and down? There would be no room.
“There are already bus stops at both ends of the High Street, with zebra crossings next to them, so there seems to be no justification for this.
“Why on earth would you want to move the bus station? It’s perfectly all right where it is. All the fumes you’d get coming out, and people jostling. The character would be affected.”
Reopening High Street to buses and cyclists is listed under the preferred package of transport measures in the Transport Strategy published in May 2013, prepared by SKM Colin Buchanan and commissioned by Wiltshire Council.
Tom Jacques, chairman of the Chippenham Vision board which aims to regenerate the town centre, said: “Opening the High Street up to buses would completely lose the vibrancy of the High Street, when what we want to be doing is extending that vibrancy further across the town centre, making it more pedestrian dominated.”
Other suggestions in the strategy include charging points for electric cars and a river taxi as a potential transport option.
Coun Packard said: “The Transport Strategy is an important document which will affect the town and it does not appear to have been open for any public consultation.”
She said the town council would be writing to Wiltshire Council’s area board meeting in January.
Coun Packard would like to see a cycle route between the train station and the town centre, although she said the High Street should remain closed to cyclists during the day.
There have been clashes between pedestrians and cyclists there, leading to police clamping down on cyclists in August this year.
Police inspector Phil Staynings said fines had been issued to cyclists throughout the month.