Oswestry Town Centre
Region: West Midlands
Unitary Authority: Shropshire
Funding Body: European Development Fund provided 50% of the cost
Summary: Historic areas are sensitive to the colour and amount of visual street clutter which can reduce the quality of its character. Yellow lines form part of this visual clutter and can detract from the built form, especially in small, narrow streets. The removal of such lines is a goal for conservation areas, but when seen to be essential they should be marked as 50mm wide and primrose or cream in colour.
Yellow lines are a control measure to prevent parking in inappropriate places on a street, and are a standard measure known to achieve compliance when they are enforced. Traffic Regulation Orders under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 are required in order for them to be legally enforceable. Historic areas are sensitive to the colour and amount of visual street clutter which can reduce the quality of its character. Yellow lines form part of this visual clutter and can detract from the built form, especially in small, narrow streets. The removal of such lines is a goal for conservation areas, but when seen to be essential they should be marked as 50mm wide and primrose or cream in colour. Drivers who are not familiar with a local area must still be made aware of parking and loading opportunities as well as restrictions. The chosen system of marking and signing has to be clear to drivers to give this message and to enable enforcement to proceed satisfactorily and fairly. There are several types of parking zones that can be used to reduce yellow lines:
• Controlled Zones
• Restricted Zones
• Historic Core Zones
The use of Controlled Zone legislation relies on the use of yellow lines to indicate the extent of waiting restrictions, without repeater signs showing waiting
times of yellow line operation. Special Controlled Zone signs are required at the entry points with details of the time restrictions on signs alongside the marked parking areas. The use of a Restricted Zone indicates waiting restrictions by means of signs instead of yellow lines. Signs for Restricted Zones and other signs and markings not included in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General
Directions (TSRGD) require special authorisation to be given from DFT. Restricted Zones can be used to direct street parking to allocated areas in order to avoid the need for yellow lines. Historic Core Zones are an example of a restricted zone measure used in an historic area. Though not of any legal standing in themselves, they demonstrate the use of the sign regulations in a way that minimises their visual impact. Some parking restriction signs are no longer legally required. For example ‘at any time’ signs can be removed and double yellow lines will suffice on their own. Yellow lines are often unnecessary where parking would clearly cause an obstruction, as long as there is a good level of official and unofficial enforcement.
Oswestry’s townscape has distinctive public spaces and a traditional medieval street pattern with buildings pre-dating the Second World War. Located in the heart of the town centre, Cross Street and Willow Street were at the focus of Shropshire County Council’s Town Centre Enhancement project and provide an example of implementing parking restrictions without yellow lines. The European Development Fund provided 50% of the total £1.3 million project cost.
Before : Poor street conditions, yellow lines and parked cars dominated the street scene.
The scheme provides:
• More space for pedestrians and an improved feeling of personal safety
• Ramped crossing points to assist with pedestrian movement
• Improved pedestrian linking of previously pedestrianised areas centred on Bailey Street with Church Street and the passageways connecting to the central car park
• Revival of The Cross as a town centre focus
• Lower traffic speeds throughout
• Enhancement of the setting for certain important buildings
• A street scene without yellow lines.
Enforcement is key to ensuring parking restrictions work, especially where the use of yellow lines is reduced. The success of the Oswestry scheme was helped by the implementation of a new enforcement regime produced as a result of the decriminalisation of parking enforcement in Shropshire. This ensured a strong stance on parking within Oswestry that was actively enforced.
The scheme has since won a Highly Commended Certificate from the Institution of Highways & Transportation as well as awards from Oswestry Civic Society and Oswestry Town Council and marks the success of the Oswestry Town Centre Enhancement.
After: Town centre improvements and parking restrictions enforced without yellow lines greatly enhance the street environment and built form. The absence of yellow lines further enhances the uncluttered street scene.
Keywords: DESIGN IN CONTEXT