Designing a Historic Core Zone

By Keith Firth, Colin Buchanan
5 May 2010

Bridge Street buildings, Bradford on AvonBradford on Avon is an historic market town containing a wealth of interesting features, set in a beautiful position on the River Avon and Kennet and Avon Canal. With a population of some 9,500 it is a relatively small settlement, however it is one of five closely spaced market towns in the former West Wiltshire district. It has its own railway station, local and area-wide bus services to Bath, Trowbridge and Warminster and, perhaps unfortunately, provides an important river crossing for a strategic road network, with the bridge carrying almost 2000 vehicles per hour in the morning and evening peak hours.
The town’s main economy today is based around local independent retail shopping, a mix of small businesses, tourism and day-to-day servicing of the local population. It is also a popular base for commuters to Bristol, Bath and towards London. There is a strong community and numerous cultural events, with a vibrant arts scene and world class concerts held at the Wiltshire Music Centre.
There is also a high level of local commitment to addressing social and environmental concerns. In 2003 the town was granted Fairtrade Town status. The Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon group is co-ordinating a campaign to make it carbon neutral by 2050. A popular local farmers` market operates weekly. Every year, streets within the town are closed to traffic for a day to facilitate festivals and fund-raising events.
Colin Buchanan were appointed by Wiltshire Council, with the Historic Towns Forum as advisors to the project, in December 2009 to develop transport and public realm improvements in the town of Bradford on Avon, using Historic Core Zone (HCZ) principles. Over the years, there have been numerous proposals and projects aimed at tackling the traffic issues within the centre of Bradford on Avon, ranging from the introduction of a bypass to smaller scale improvements such as one-way systems and pedestrian improvement schemes.
In 2008, a Community Area initiative “Priority for People” began in the town. A core stakeholder group, consisting of elected Parish and Town Councillors, staff from Wiltshire Council and Community Group representatives, explored priorities and pulled together a series of initiatives for the town. Four action plans were proposed including one specifically looking at the development of an HCZ in the town. In July 2009, the Bradford on Avon Area Board gave its support for the Historic Core Zone Initiative.
The ultimate aim is to produce a design for an HCZ which meets the set of project objectives, defined as:
  1. The creation of a clearly identifiable zone within the town that seeks to re-balance the relationship between motorised vehicles and vulnerable road users and reduces the dominance and intimidation of traffic, and;
  2. The development of a scheme that:
  • ensures that the character and appearance of the town is enhanced and preserved;
  • improves accessibility for public transport users, pedestrians, cyclists and the mobility-impaired in the HCZ;
  • will help pedestrians, cyclists and the mobility impaired feel safer using the streets within the HCZ;
  • improves the pedestrian environment whilst still providing through movements for traffic and sufficient levels of parking;
  • ensures that traffic speeds and flows are in balance with the proximity of people within the HCZ.
So far, the team has held two workshops in the town to determine the issues and aspirations of stakeholders and to seek their views on a select number of scheme options presenting integrated traffic management and urban realm enhancements. The options have been well received, and following steering group meetings with Wiltshire Council the team is now in the process of developing a preliminary design based on the workshop findings.
Note: The final proposes will be presented at the conference to be held in Bradford on Avon on 10 June.  View programme and booking form.