Pedestrianisation of Market Street – publication of full report

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A study into St Andrews residents and businesses views on the town’s Market Street, which focused particularly on the potential for pedestrianised, as been completed. The full report can be viewed at: https://www.playfairconsultancygroup.com/past-projects

Summary 

The study, which was commissioned by St Andrews Labour councillor, Brian Thomson, and was carried out by Playfair Consultancy Group, contained the following key findings:

  • the majority of residents (53%) and businesses (84%) who responded would prefer no change to Market Street, i.e. no pedestrianisation;
  • just under a third (28%) of residents would like to see full pedestrianisation;
  • partial or temporary pedestrianisation was the third most favoured option for residents (16%);
  • the results suggest that, whilst most respondents recognise that some form of pedestrianisation may improve Market Street’s social atmosphere, they prioritise high levels of accessibility, and fear that losing vehicle access and on-street parking would deter people from using the street, with businesses suffering as a consequence;
  • improvements to parking and transport flow within St Andrews would have to take place before the majority in the town would consider supporting pedestrianisation;
  • plentiful availability of parking was identified as a key factor in case study examples of pedestrianisation schemes; and
  • whilst ‘no change’ is the preferred option for the layout of Market Street, there is demand for smaller scale improvements that could improve user experience for both pedestrians and motorists.

Councillor Thomson said: “This is probably the most extensive survey that has been carried out to seek views regarding Market Street, and I was delighted that participation in it was so high, with 1,520 responses from residents 55 from businesses.  Whilst a significant number of respondents would wish to see some sort of pedestrianisation implemented, the majority wish to see no change to Market Street and, for me, that’s a key finding of the study.

Personally, I’m fully in favour of making the town centre more pedestrian and cycle friendly – and efforts to improve crossing points and cycle facilities are ongoing – however, I take the view that prior to considering any big change to Market Street in more detail, it would need to demonstrated that it’s backed by a significant proportion of residents, and that’s clearly not the case at present.

The study does highlight examples of pedestrianisation schemes that have resulted in increased pedestrian flows and turnover for businesses, however, many have plentiful nearby parking.  That’s definitely not the case in St Andrews and, with the on-going cuts to Fife Council’s funding, there is currently no finance available to construct new car parks.

Whilst I’m in agreement with the findings of the study that pedestrianisation should not be pursued at this stage, it flagged up other areas of concern, e.g. the angle of parking spaces, the prevalence of A-boards, insufficient pedestrian crossing points and a lack of cycling facilities, which is useful to me, as a local councillor, and I’ll be looking to see how some of the issues raised can be addressed.

Also, a common suggestion from respondents was moving the monthly farmer’s market to the east end of Market Street, which would only require a temporary road closure to vehicular traffic – as happens in Cupar – and could potentially have benefits for stall holders, local businesses and the environment.  It’s potentially worth giving it some consideration.

I’d like to thank all who have participated in the survey, and Playfair Consultancy Group for carrying out such a comprehensive and balanced piece of work.”

Frazer Towers, of Playfair Consultancy Group, said: “The results from our Market Street consultation show that while approximately a third of respondents indicate some form of preference for pedestrianisation, the option which was most favourable and desirable was that there should be ‘no change’ to the existing street layout.

Our results suggest that while most respondents recognise some form of vehicle restriction may improve Market Street’s social atmosphere, they prioritise high levels of accessibility.  Respondents fear losing vehicle access and on street parking would deter people from using the street, with businesses suffering as a consequence.  Therefore, improvements to parking and transport flow within St Andrews must take place before the majority in town would consider supporting pedestrianisation.  Indeed, plentiful availability of parking was identified as a key factor in case study examples of successful pedestrianisation schemes.

While ‘no change’ is the preferred option for the street layout, there is still demand for smaller scale improvements such as the re-angling of parking bays and reducing pavement clutter which would improve user experience for both pedestrians and motorists.

Finally, Playfair would like to extend our thanks to all those who participated in our consultation, we look forward to continuing to serve St Andrew’s businesses and community organisations in the future.”

Playfair Consultancy will be giving a short presentation on the study at the next meeting of St Andrews Community Council, on Monday 4th March, in the Burgh Chambers, Queen’s Gardens, at 7.00pm.  The meeting is open to the public.

 

St Andrews Q.V.

St Andrews QV (Qui Vive) is an independent not-for-profit, non-political platform for news and debates about issues that are important to the Town. It exists to hold decision makers and public services to account while its editorial policy is to accommodate all shades of opinion from all parts of the community, prioritising evidence-based arguments. St Andrews QV is a member of the Independent Community News Network and is committed to the Community Journalism Charter

1 comment

  1. St Andrews Space for Cycling (SASC) was one of the organisers of the successful Car Free day in September last year which brought large numbers of people out to enjoy Market Street without having to dodge motor traffic. Hence we are disappointed by the findings of the Playfair study whilst recognising the weight of public opinion against pedestrianisation, at the present time.
    Our perspective, which we think is shared by many people locally, is that St Andrews needs to move to a much lower reliance on the car as a means of transport within our beautiful and ancient city.
    Whilst being very convenient for individuals to get around, and essential for a minority of road users, motor cars bring huge problems to the community as a whole.
    We face a climate emergency: cars are one of the biggest contributors to global warming
    Air pollution affects all cities and St Andrews is not immune: levels of asthma are on the up particularly among children, largely as a result of motor vehicle exhausts.
    Obesity is climbing owing to the lack of exercise and child pedestrian accidents are one of the main causes of deaths in the UK.

    Pedestrianisation provides a simple solution to all these problems, and a look at cities of comparable size to St Andrews across Europe shows many very successful examples, with increased levels of economic activity.

    SASC is developing a cycling plan for St Andrews which should make it much easier and safer for those on two wheels to carry out their daily commute or get from home to school. We’d like to hear from anyone who feels the same and would like to join the journey.

    Tony Waterston
    Chair of SASC

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