Months of road closures and restrictions are announced for ‘unique village’ in Exeter as Covid-imposed cycle and walk route is made permanent

Months of phased road closures and traffic restrictions are set to begin in an area of Exeter in a bid to turn a temporary Covid cycle and walk route permanent.

During the pandemic Magdalen Road, in the St Leonards area of the city, was closed to two-way traffic, in favour of pedestrians and cyclists.

After a public consultation ruled to keep the restrictions, Devon County Council (DCC) has announced Magdalen Road, Denmark Road, Wonford Road and College Road will be restricted to traffic or closed in phases from Monday (January 16) as work begins to make the layout permanent.

Overnight road closures in the St Leonards area began on January 9, and further restrictions and diversions are expected until April 2023.

DCC said the temporary layout, imposed by the council in June 2020, had encouraged cycling and walking – and ‘strengthened the unique village atmosphere’.

St Leonards residents can expect a wider pavement, permanent one-way road layout for vehicles – two-way for bikes – and extra parking for bicycles.

The work will include:

  • Phase 1 – Denmark Road junction to Wonford Road junction, January 16 – late February;
  • Phase 2 – Wonford Road junction to eastern end of limited waiting (echelon) parking bays, late February – late March;
  • Phase 3 – Eastern end of limited waiting parking bays to College Road/St Leonards Road junction, late March – late April.

DCC said local businesses will remain open during the works and will be provided with alternative delivery areas and parking.

People making journeys within the area should allow additional time or take an alternative route, said the county council.

Exeter

The map of expected road closures.
Image: DCC.

Councillor Carol Whitton, DCC member for St David’s and Haven Banks, said: “The temporary traffic arrangements in Magdalen Road have made a real contribution to the community over the last few years.

“Reducing the use of cars has encouraged more people to take up cycling and walking and the unique village atmosphere has been strengthened.

“I look forward to the even greater benefits that the scheme will bring with a permanent replacement of the red and white plastic bollards, a new wider pavement area for pedestrians, and new street furniture and planting.”

Councillor Stuart Hughes, DCC cabinet member for highways management, with responsibility for cycling, said 75 per cent of the 1,500 respondents to a previous consultation said they wanted traffic reduced – ‘to either help walking and cycling or to provide outside space for shops and cafes’.

Cllr Hughes said: “The additional footway space will create an improved environment in the heart of St Leonards which I hope will encourage more people to shop and dine on Magdalen Road, allowing our local traders to flourish.

“I appreciate it’s a difficult time for businesses at the moment and we don’t want to unnecessarily add to those problems, which is why the work has been timed to be carried out after the Christmas period.”

The county council said the work was expected to be completed by summer,  turning the temporary measures introduced in June 2020 into a permanent layout.

A DCC spokeswoman said: “The changes are designed to enable and encourage cycling and walking, creating a more attractive urban environment, while maintaining vehicle access for local businesses and residents.

“This will be achieved through maintaining the widened pedestrian footway and one-way vehicular traffic -with two-way cycling – and introducing a new restricted parking zone and raised crossing point.

“Additional planting and cycle parking will also be provided.”

Find out more about the work, here.

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