Saffron Walden's Covid-19 traffic measures could become permanent under councils' plans

A 20mph sign near The Common in Saffron Walden, Essex

A permanent 20mph speed limit could be introduced throughout Saffron Walden town centre under Essex Highways plans - Credit: Will Durrant

New restrictions on Saffron Walden's roads could boost the town's economy, two councils have said.

Saffron Walden Town Council and Essex Highways are consulting on two separate plans to continue temporary Covid-19 traffic measures on a permanent basis.

A temporary 20mph speed limit in the town centre and timed Market Square pedestrianisation began in June 2020 to support social distancing.

Saffron Walden Town Council has launched a detailed town centre consultation, which could see the complete pedestrianisation of the Market Square.

Essex Highways plans to expand Saffron Walden's 20mph area - currently bounded by High Street, Church Street and Common Hill - to include Castle Hill, East Street and Audley Road, and keep it in place permanently.

A Road Closed sign on Market Hill, near the Market Square in Saffron Walden, Essex

Saffron Walden Town Council is consulting on permanent and seasonal Market Place road closures - Credit: Will Durrant

Councillor Paul Gadd, town council leader and Essex County Council member, said: "I am totally in favour of the 20mph limit.

"It is something that the town council has been pushing for for years, but ECC has generally opposed the move.

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"The 20mph limit ought to make pavements safer, and make the town centre a nicer place to shop and work, where people can meet."

He added that it would be up to residents to share their views on the Market Place.

R4U councillor Paul Gadd, leader of Saffron Walden Town Council. Picture: R4U

Paul Gadd (Residents for Uttlesford) who represents the Saffron Walden electoral division at Essex County Council - Credit: Residents for Uttlesford

There are three options for the Market Square: full pedestrianisation, partial or seasonal closures, or a full reopening to traffic on non-market days.

Essex Highways is responsible for the 20mph limit consultation.

In a statement, Essex Highways said: "It was identified that there was a strong local desire to make these temporary limits permanent 20mph and also to include additional lengths of road.

"The reduction in speed limit to 20mph aims to create a strong, inclusive and sustainable economy for Essex residents."

According to Essex Highways, nine roads incidents resulted in death or serious injury in Saffron Walden in 2019 and 2020.

A sign for Saffron Walden near Audley End in Essex - behind it a 30mph sign

Saffron Walden's 20mph area will revert back to 30mph in January if Essex Highways does not pass a new traffic order - Credit: Will Durrant

The town council's consultation closes on January 24. Residents can comment on the plans at the Tourist Information Centre or online: https://saffronwaldentowncentre.commonplace.is/

Comments on the 20mph plan can be submitted to Essex Highways before December 17 online at TrafficRegulation.Order@essexhighways.org quoting reference TRAF/7738.