The pledge to investigate a potential ‘low traffic neighbourhood’ (LTN) for Town Walls was made by the authority’s leader Lezley Picton at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday as members agreed to progress with a consultation into making the partial pedestrianisation of High Street permanent.
A temporary traffic order is currently in place preventing motor vehicles from travelling up Wyle Cop and using High Street between 11am and 4pm daily, with an exception made for taxis and buses during the week.
The council will launch a public consultation in the autumn on whether to make the changes permanent, but the move has sparked concern from Town Walls residents, who say the restrictions have led to a dangerous increase in traffic using their narrow street.
To address the issue the consultation will also seek views on the creation of an LTN, which would see measures brought in to prevent traffic from being able to use the area as a cut-through. This could be in the form of changes to road layouts, the addition of physical barriers such as planters, or enforcement cameras.
Councillor Julian Dean, leader of the Green group and current mayor of Shrewsbury, said an LTN should first be trialled before a meaningful consultation can take place.
Councillor Picton responded: “I agree it’s going to be really difficult for people to understand what an LTN will mean for them if we don’t do an experiment with it.
“It’s probably something we are going to have to do if we want to include that.”
Councillor Picton added that she had some “reservations” about the proposed changes to High Street, describing them as a “watered down” version of the social distancing measures that were in place during lockdown periods.
She said: “We will run this consultation, but I think we are going to have to put a temporary LTN if we can onto Town Walls to see how that affects traffic, and we are almost certainly going to have to have some form of enforcing it ourselves because I don’t think we can rely on the police to do it.”
Cabinet unanimously agreed to a temporary traffic order being made to allow the High Street and Wyle Cop restrictions to continue, and for a public consultation to be carried out later in the year.
Councillor Steve Charmley, portfolio holder for highways, said: “These schemes are supported by Shrewsbury Town Council and Business Improvement District (BID) but the purpose of the consultation is to get feedback from residents, businesses and visitors to the town.
“The last thing we want to do is impinge on the thriving economic growth of the town centre and for that reason I would like to add a further recommendation, for Shropshire Council to run a separate consultation with the businesses within the loop of the river who will be directly affected by this.”