Copyright © Southampton Common Forum - 2020

2020 PROPOSALS FOR GREEN TRAVEL IN AND AROUND THE COMMON

In late Feb. 2020, Southampton City Council (SCC) launched a major new consultation to learn residents’ views about proposed green travel improvements in and around The Common.

These proposals are part of SCC’s aim to deliver on their Cycle Strategy adopted in 2017 supporting active and sustainable travel, as well as reducing the city’s carbon footprint and improving its air quality by 2030. These proposals are expected to be funded by the Southampton City Region Transforming Cities Fund which Southampton and Hampshire have been bid for.

The proposals

  1. To build a segregated, on-road cycle lane along both sides of The Avenue for most of its length. At the major traffic junctions where two lane queuing is required to retain junction capacity, the cycle route will be moved onto an off-road, shared use footway with crossing facilities at those junctions.
  2. To widen Lovers’ Walk running down the eastern edge of The Common. Whilst not a main commuter route, Lovers’ Walk will continue to provide a desirable route for people walking and cycling between The University of Southampton campuses and to the City Centre as well as for leisure. A 2017 Planning application stalled due to objections. Revised plans are now proposed.

View the proposals online here.

SCF Management Committee’s Response

The SCF Management Committee sent a detailed response to the proposals to Council. This was broadly supportive of the proposals but had some specific recommendations which it wished to be considered at the planning stage. The summary and recommendations are reproduced below, the full text is available here.

Summary

1. Southampton Common Forum Management Committee (SCFMC) broadly supports these proposals for The Avenue (SCN5) Cycle Corridor and the associated widening of Lovers’ Walk.

2. Together they form a welcome strategic and integrated approach to green travel across The Common and the City which supports the Southampton Cycle Network strategy, the Southampton Common Plan 2019-30 and the City Council’s Green City Charter “to create a cleaner, greener, healthier and more sustainable city.”

3. They are:

A reasonable compromise between the interests of the affected users: pedestrians, cyclists, dog walkers and motorists as well as the green character of The Common.

A proportionate response (e.g. a net reduction of less than 1/1,000th of The Common’s green space) to the pressing need to encourage green travel, improve the safety of users and enhance access.

 An appropriate use of The Common in continuing its historic role of evolving to support the changing needs of a changing City for the benefit of its citizens. The proposal also encourages green travel to The Common’s urban periphery away from its green interior. We recognise that The Common has never been static but is continually evolving.

 Supported by the extensive evidence and research into green travel on The Common that SCF has undertaken in the last 3 years and by the Council since 2013.

4. These proposals will have a number of important benefits:

 Improving the safety and experience for cyclists, pedestrians, dog walkers, green commuters and more general users of The Common.

 Facilitating an increase of green travel to major clusters of employment in the City, helping to improve air quality, enhancing access and supporting healthier lifestyles.

 Further progress on the northern radial corridor (SCN5) to connect with the National cycle network at Chilworth roundabout

 A reduction of traffic on Lovers’ Walk (and the wider Common) by diverting some of it along the proposed Avenue cycleways.

 A reduction in conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists, especially on Lovers Walk.

5. We suggest some detailed enhancements to the proposed designs which we wish to be considered at the planning stage.

6. After seven years of extensive consideration and consultation by SCC it is now urgent, in the wider public interest, to resolve these matters and move on. We look forward to working with the Council as these proposals are implemented.

Recommendations

1. We believe there are a number of points that would improve the proposals further that we ask to be taken into consideration:

a. Small variations to the Lovers’ Walk route to improve sightlines and natural lighting.

b. Thinning of dense stands and trimming back of trees immediately adjacent to Lovers Walk to improve natural lighting.

c. Improve the proposed species mix by including native wildflowers on the verge of Lovers Walk and the Avenue. (The proposed mitigation plan proposes a species-poor grass mix).

d. Improve the layout at the junction with University Steps to eliminate desire lines.

e. Provision of seating along Lovers’ Walk to assist less mobile users.

f. Use of porous tarmac to avoid water puddling and ice patches.

g. Ensure that any soil imported to create levelling borders alongside a raised Lovers Walk is of a suitable quality.

2. Finally, there has been significant encroachment of The Common onto the tarmac paths up the sides of The Avenue, so the available width may be wider than is currently perceived. This might allow for further refinement of the design of the Avenue cycle path. SCF volunteers are available to survey and reclaim the pavements.

Public Consultation

SCC is keen to hear public reaction on these proposals, whether for, against or neutral. The Lovers' Walk proposal is a formal planning application, the segregated cycle path on The Avenue does not require planning consent. Because of this, the mechanism for commenting on the 2 proposals differs.

For Lovers’ Walk proposal, all formal comments must be made through the planning system. Please note that commenting on planning applications is a formal process and you have to register on SCC's Planning Portal to make comments. For anyone who isn't familiar with the planning process, we have written a guide to using the portal which can be found here. Comments on the planning application must be made by Monday 16th March 2020.

For the Avenue cycle path proposal, there is an online survey which closes on Thursday 26th March 2020. It also has a box for comments about the Lovers’ Walk proposal but any comments made here will not be considered in the formal planning process so you must make those comments through the Planning Portal.

In addition, SCC hosted a series of 3 drop-in events and exhibitions to allow residents to view the plans and talk to council officers about them.

If you just have general inquiries or questions that you cannot find answers to please email SCC at roadworks@southampton.gov.uk.

SCF encourages everyone with an interest in these proposals to comment on them.

Links

NEW - SCF Management Committee’s response - full text

SCC’s website for the consultations.

SCC’s Planning Portal Home Page.

Lovers’ Walk Planning application on the Planning Portal.

SCF’s guide to using the Planning Portal.

SCC’s online survey for the Avenue cycle path proposal.