LYME Regis is one of three rural communities selected to take part in a major new research project led by the Royal College of Art, which will reimagine public spaces and transport systems in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the current fragility of our interconnected world; from the importance of our local communities to the impacts on global trade, jobs and our natural environment.
In response to this and wider challenges about the future, designers from the Royal College of Art (RCA) – supported by the professional bodies of the Transport Planning Society, the Chartered Institute of Highways & Transportation (CIHT), the Royal Town Planning Institute, and private organisations ITP, UK Regeneration and MBC – have come together to seek a better way forward. Together with partners from councils, civil society and charities, the RCA has connected with three rural communities around England so that they can understand their beliefs, feelings and knowledge about their towns.
The three communities are Biggleswade in Bedfordshire, Haltwhistle and surrounding parishes in Northumberland, and Lyme Regis.
The college will be using residents’ experience and knowledge to develop a set of tools that will help them to reimagine how they can build their community together, improve the ways they get around their town as well as beyond and how they might share their ideas about the future in more collaborative and supportive ways.
Lynda Addison OBE, former chairman of the Transport Planning Society and chairman of CIHT Sustainable Transport Panel, said: “We need to create a ‘plastics’ moment, as Sir David Attenborough did for oceans, in the approach to community and transport planning.
“We want to create places where local services and activities are truly local or accessible and we need to give confidence to all sectors of society that this is deliverable, essential given the major challenges in society, and effective.
“This will require a paradigm shift in thinking and action and will only be achieved if it is supported and led by local communities as well as politicians and industry partners.”
The project will be led by the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre at the RCA and will include an interdisciplinary team from mobility design, architecture, communication and service design who will be using their creative skills to develop a vision of future community planning that is both inclusive and fit for the future.
The college will be sharing design insights and a prototype proposal from the project on the TPS’s Transport Planning Day on November 16.
Stakeholders who have agreed to provide additional knowledge include Living Streets, Sustrans, The RAC Foundation, The National Association of Local Councils, The Centre for Ageing Better and Social Research Associates Ltd.
Findings could be ‘really valuable’ for Lyme Regis
In Lyme Regis, the Community Support Group that was initially set up to help vulnerable residents during the coronavirus pandemic is co-ordinating the project to build on the goodwill, care and resilience shown by the volunteers and residents during lockdown, and to develop its role in continuing to engage in activities that bring the community together.
One of the lead members of the Community Support Group is town councillor Belinda Bawden, who commented: “We are keen for the Community Support Group to continue to be at the heart of how we look after each other in Lyme, working closely with the local health and social care team.
“Lyme Regis was selected as one of three small towns around the UK to take part and it seems an ideal project for us to develop the group’s continuing role in community engagement.
“We expect the findings will be really valuable not only for us but for the Lyme Regis Development Trust, the town council and Dorset Council in their future planning for the town and surrounding area.”
Findings from the research project could help to tackle one of Lyme Regis’ biggest issues – traffic congestion and parking problems.
Councillor Bawden is keen for residents who have previously made suggestions to help ease these issues, either via public consultations or in letters and correspondence to LymeOnline, to get in touch again with their ideas.
She has also outlined her own ideas to address these problems below, saying she believes Lyme should start looking at “bold solutions”.
by town councillor Belinda Bawden
- Prevent all traffic coming in to town by restricting access only for deliveries, residents’ access, Blue Badge holders and public transport, including taxis and shuttle buses to/from the main car parks.
- Increase charges in Dorset Council main car parks – Holmbush & Charmouth Road.
- Designate the Cobb Gate car park for Blue Badge holders only & the Broad Street for residents’ only.
- Restrict all traffic with controllable bollards in Silver Street (below Hill Road); Pound Street (below Cobb Road); Charmouth Road just below car park.
- Have automated signs indicating car park spaces available at each of Holmbush, Charmouth Road, Woodmead, Monmouth/Cabanya car parks.
- Install a shuttle bus service doing a loop round the main car parks to take people in and out of town who didn’t want to walk.
- Keep parked cars off the Cart Road there and Marine Parade – much safer for walkers.
- Keep A-boards off the pavements in Broad Street and Marine Parade and the Cobb Hamlet. It is dangerous currently with the volume of pedestrians and social distancing is impossible where there are A-boards.
- Establish E-bike rental hubs in various locations in town and investigate proper cycle lanes to encourage cyclists.
- Kingsway should become a school street. It could be closed off at both ends (i.e. residents’ access only) or blocked at the Queen’s Walk end to prevent through traffic. l 20mph through most of the town.
- Park & Ride in Charmouth Road must be encouraged by charging much more for the Charmouth Road and Holmbush car park – £5 or £6 for a day. The additional revenue could be shared between Dorset Council and Lyme Regis Town Council or ring-fenced for other measures in town to improve health and well-being. Better still, please transfer responsibility for the car parks to LRTC.
- Residents would welcome a reduction in traffic chaos in Lyme and businesses would thrive as more people would use the town centre knowing they could walk on the pavements without fear of being knocked over and of breathing air polluted by traffic fumes.