A temporary one-way system running the entire length of Budleigh Salterton High Street has been backed by town councillors.
The measure, flowing east to west from Rolle Road to the junction of West Hill and Station Road, aims to keep shoppers safe and boost social distancing.
It will also see 14 High Street parking spaces, between its Rolle Road and Ragg Lane junctions, removed.
Barriers will be used to widen the south-side pavement from Hays Travel to Top Notch.
Vehicles entering the town from West Hill will be diverted along Station Road and Upper Stoneborough Lane and then onto East Budleigh Road, Coastguard Road, Marine Parade and Fore Street.
Traffic entering High Street from side streets such as Cliff Road and The Lawn will only be able to travel in a westerly direction.
More barriers will be installed next to the pavement on the northern side of High Street from the former Royal Mail sorting office to the junction of Station Road.
Town councillors voted eight to two in favour of the Temporary Traffic Regulations Order (TTRO) last night (Monday).
Their plan will be amended with a request to close Cricketfield Lane and Chapel Hill to through-traffic – making it accessible to residents only – and for extra signage.
The proposed scheme will now go back to Devon County Council (DCC) and, once formally approved, would take around a fortnight to implement.
A one-way system has been devised as town councillors feel it will ‘allow for a safe reopening of the High Street to residents and visitors’.
District councillor Tom Wright told last night’s meeting the scheme was ‘for the greater good’ – the safety of pedestrians.
“We have to accept we are going to inconvenience some people,” he said.
“It’s not going to be acceptable to everyone.”
Councillor Penny Lewis said: “I’m disappointed that people think a one-way system is the first aim and not to widen pavements.
“We are slow of the mark and it [High Street] isn’t a safe place at the moment.
“I would love to magic a wider High Street, but it isn’t possible.
“What we’re trying to do is get wider pavements so people can move along High Street and use the shops safely.
“It’s not to impose a one-way system, it’s to get wider pavements.”
“It is to create a safer shopping environment in the town,” said Cllr Henry Riddell.
He added that procrastinating over the cost and other elements ‘is not going to cut it for someone who has been hit by a car’.
District councillor Alan Dent added: “This is about safety of pedestrians.
“I believe this is going to improve the shopping experience for people – whether residents or visitors – and in the long-term will be of benefit to the traders in the High Street.”
He warned that ‘Coivd-19 has not gone away’ with an ‘influx of visitors’ set to head to the area.
Budleigh Town Council will review the TTRO in three months and will ask for it to be removed if social distancing restrictions end sooner than this.
A report by town clerk Jo Vanstone said social distancing has seen pedestrians have to walk in the road – posing a danger to them and motorists.
Her report adds: “The town council would like to encourage visitors and residents to use its High Street by showing that Budleigh Salterton is safe to visit whilst still allowing shoppers to follow social distancing restrictions.
“Members feel that by allowing more space for people to walk freely and browse, it will be a more enjoyable atmosphere with the knock-on effect of helping the town’s traders.”
The council has worked with Devon highways officers, district and county representatives and held talks with the chamber of commerce on finding a solution.
Councillors believe that the loss of some on-street parking in High Street will be ‘cancelled out’ by the 123 free and 505 pay-and-display spaces across the town’s five car parks.
“Safety of all those wishing to shop in the town is the main purpose of this system and if at any time the situation changes in the future the town council will review the situation to see if the one-way system can be lifted or changed,” the report adds.
Last night’s meeting heard concern from one resident that Chapel Hill and Cricketfield Lane would be used as a shortcut to the High Street by delivery vehicles.
She said the scheme was unintentionally ‘protecting one set of pedestrians while putting a different set elsewhere at risk’.
Dad-of-two Tom Dixon asked for a pedestrian crossing to be installed in Upper Stoneborough Lane and expressed concern about ‘general safety’ with more vehicles using the road.
“Cars come winging down that road often in excess of 30mph,” he said.
His request will not be included in the one-way scheme, but will be considered at a later date by the council’s traffic group.
Cyclists will have to observe the one-way system.[asp_product id=”17531″]