I went out today at about 3.00pm to visit the Post Office. Fortunately I was walking. A Boots delivery van was badly parked on the corner of Railway Street behind the delivery bay. A 310 double decker bus was unable to complete a turn from Market Street resulting in a queue of traffic down Market Street, along both sides of Fore Street and into Parliament Square. There was nowhere for any vehicle to go apart from waiting for the obstruction to clear. In that congestion was a fire appliance fortunately I hope, not on a call.
What has this to do with the Bircherley Green Regeneration plans you ask?
Wrenbridge, working on behalf of Cordeo-Savills have had some preliminary consultation meetings with Councils, residents and also set up a stand in Bircherley Green on 30/31 August 2014. The plans which at this stage are no more than artists impressions lack any real detail as to measurements, materials or size. There have been comments both positive and negative on the proposed siting of a new anchor food store and the provision of 124 town centre apartments.
The main area of concern for those who attended the consultations was the removal of the bus station from Bircherley Green and the provision of a number of enhanced bus stops along Fore Street. .
Under the new proposals all buses would have to enter the town along Fore Street from the roundabout; and exit through South Street, turning either right or left. There are no lights at the South Street exit where it joins the main roundabout.
Fore Street is one way and at best restricts traffic to one lane only as on the north side there are already marked out bus stops and the the south side has allocated parking spaces and delivery bays for traders. Even so, there is not a lot of room for two large vehicles to pass.
In effect all buses will be circling the town along Fore Street, through Market Street and out again through Railway Street; along with all other traffic. At present when buses are early or catching up with the timetable they wait at the bus station. Sometimes there can be up to six or seven buses standing there idle, as well as patient passengers. There will be no room for any of this if the move to Fore Street goes ahead.
It is worth mentioning here that Hertford is an ancient market town full of buildings of historical or architectural interest; the roads were not built for, nor intended for heavy modern traffic. The impact of so many extra buses along roads not constructed for their use may well break up the surface and cause uncertain damage to the historic structures all around.
The pavements at Fore Street are quite narrow and there is not much space for all the schoolchildren waiting for a bus at 3.30pm. In addition this is the site for the Taxi Marshalling Scheme on weekends and the present taxi rank is located on the north side of Railway Street.
Most people to whom I have spoken cannot see how this can work. There are a lot of bus routes which use the current bus station and they all have to be accommodated. For many people in Hertford the bus is the only means of travel. It is a worrying state of affairs at best.
You may now understand why I began this post with the traffic problems this afternoon. The driver returned to his van and the traffic moved again. It was not a long hold-up. However it only needs one broken bus, minor traffic incident or a badly parked car to gridlock the whole town in a matter of minutes and remain so for hours.
I think Wrenbridge and their fellow consultants may have to dramatically re-think their strategy.