The main aim of our transport projects are to support the Yeovil Refresh programme and to make sure that all modes of transport can be used in accessing the town centre.
In the centre itself, we are aiming to produce a space that is shared but is dominated by pedestrians rather than vehicles. We aim to reduce the conflict between people and vehicles, improving the environment and making it easier to move around the central area. This should create an accessible, less cluttered area which all residents can use safely. This should benefit air quality making Yeovil a town centre that is fit for the 21st century.
We have produced an Access Strategy that aims to:
Enable excellent access to retail, leisure and business opportunities;
Supports the delivery of strategic development sites; and
Supports the Local Plan aspirations for low carbon travel.
The plan we are moving forward with has several packages which together make up the whole transport projects elements of the overall programme. Full details of the projects can be found below.
Pedestrian and Cycling
We are working with Somerset County Council to produce a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). The work that has been carried out as part of this project is helping us to assess cycling and walking routes across Yeovil which will pass through and around the town centre creating access to retail, leisure and business opportunities in the area.
The LCWIP also supports aspirations for low carbon travel as once work is finished and schemes implemented, it's hoped that walking and cycling in to the town centre will be more attractive and less short trips will be taken by car for example.
A review of cycle paths and walking routes in and around the town centre has been undertaken and officers from South Somerset District Council are working with partners at Somerset County Council to discuss how improvements to the cycle network around the town could be implemented.
Improved way-finding signage also forms part of this project of work. Improving signage to the town centre will enhance the experience by those travelling by walking or cycling, allowing for better knowledge of routes, key focal points in the town centre and beyond.
Reviewing the car parking in the town centre also forms a central piece of this project. Reviewing parking, in terms of space requirements, allows us to make informed decisions about usage and therefore whether car parks can be improved or changed to another use. We are well aware that car park usage in Yeovil town centre has been declining for many years, with shopping habits changing and the mix of retail and leisure declining in the area. This therefore potentially gives us options to redevelop space that isn't required and a number of options will be looked at as part of the car parking review.
The Access Strategy reviewed conditions in Yeovil town centre, including traffic circulation, bus routing, pedestrian infrastructure and traffic flows.
The access Strategy highlights that Yeovil town centre has a complex network of streets and corridors of movement. It highlights that the A30 Queensway / Reckleford is a significant barrier to movement between some of the residential areas north and west of the town centre.
Bus routing is also considered in the report. The vast majority of buses that visit the town centre enter The Borough in the town centre and usage is very high (pre-covid), with approximately 20 bus route numbers using the stop at The Borough with varying frequencies and of course, pedestrian use is very high in this area. The report also looked at the outdated bus station which is in need of replacement to better suit its role as a major entry point to the town.
Lastly, the Access Strategy report looked at pedestrian and cycle routes, which forms the work of the LCWIP. Pedestrian and cycle routes to the town centre involve convoluted crossings or unappealing subways and are dominated by car traffic.
There are many opportunities to address some of these issues, with officers working with consultants and then ultimately our colleagues at Somerset County Council to look at how we can make improvements to the highways network will enable better access to the town centre. Work under this project can be delivered in phases and we believe will all have benefits to movement into and around the town centre. We have also looked at how we can link up with Pen Mill and Yeovil Junction railway stations.
Public transport schemes
A lot of the above work in other projects will address some of the public transport schemes, however we are also working on other schemes in the town to improve access. For example, we have recently introduced an e-scooter trial in Yeovil which ultimately aims to replace short car trips with other more environmentally friendly alternatives. With the declaration of a climate emergency, there is an urgent need for solutions that will directly reduce unnecessary car usage in order to lower carbon emissions, reduce air pollution and congestion and improve health and wellbeing.
This scheme will be run under the official e-scooter trials initiative, authorised by the Department for Transport. It allows the DfT to review how authorised rental e-scooters are used in a controlled and monitored environment.