Bid to enhance closed Swanage seafront road thwarted by £6,000 bill

With part of Swanage’s Shore Road permanently closed to traffic and the summer visitor season approaching, there’s a proposal to remove the line markings and parking signs, to make it less like a road, but there’s a question mark over who should pay.

The southern section of Shore Road from The Mowlem to Victoria Avenue, was closed all year round by Dorset Council on a trial basis in October 2022, and in January 2024 the decision was made to make it permanently traffic-free to improve pedestrian safety.

Shore road

White lines are no longer required and detract from the beauty of the view

“Make it feel more like a promenade, rather than a closed road”

However the area, owned by Dorset Council, still looks like a closed road rather than a pedestrianised promenade, with four redundant posts with old parking information, yellow double lines and parking bay white lines. 

At a Swanage Town Council meeting on Monday 29th April 2024, a report was presented which said:

“The visitor services manager has contacted Dorset Council to ask if there are any plans to remove the double yellow and white road markings along with four metal posts that hold parking information signs. 

“The removal of the redundant street furniture and line markings will go some way towards enhancing this area to make it feel more like a promenade, rather than a closed road.”

Swanage Town Council’s visitor services manager Culvin Milmer added at the meeting:

“Keeping the lines on the old road section means it does encourage those who still use it (i.e. service or event vehicles) to treat it as if it’s still a road. Removing them would make it feel much less like a road.”

Shore road

Pointless parking sign

Shore road

Blot on the landscape – there are four redundant sign posts that could be removed

Traffic management gang and hydro-blaster

However despite still having responsibility for the area, Dorset Council highways department responded by asking the town council to pay more than £6,000 for the work to be carried out. Dorset Council in a written response said: 

“Further to your request to carry out signing and lining works at Shore Road, Swanage.

“The cost to provide a two-person highways gang with lorry and suitable tools to remove and dispose of four number 89 millimetre diameter posts with reinstatement of the surface using asphalt concrete surface course would be £330.00 only excluding vat.

“The cost to provide a two-person traffic management gang with stop/go boards together with a hydro-blaster and remove around 600 metres of yellow line and 250 metres of parking bays would be £6,204.00 only excluding vat.

“If we can add additional works for the hydro-blaster for the day we would be able to reduce the mobilisation charge at £2K and the full day’s charge for the traffic management gang.”

In the meeting, it was explained that the need for a traffic management gang had been queried as the road was closed but Dorset Council said that the team was needed to ensure the safety of pedestrians. 

Swanage Town Council has looked at doing the work itself and could have the lines burnt off at a cost of around £1,500, however Dorset Council hasn’t yet responded to the request for the town council to undertake the job itself. 

Shore road

No requirement for double yellows when it’s traffic free

Shore road

Dorset Council prefer a hydro blaster to remove the white paint but it could be burnt off cheaper, or even perhaps painted over?

“I think we need a management plan”

First to speak in the discussion, councillor Chris Tomes said that it did seem a lot of money but he was supportive of the Swanage seafront strategy and would like to see the area made more pedestrian friendly.

Councillor Gary Suttle said:

“I think we need a management plan. It’s a bit drastic and expensive to spend £6,000 without a long term plan in place.”

It was then proposed by councillor Mike Whitwam for the future council to set up a working party, as he pointed out there was probably quite a lot that could be done to make the area user friendly for children.

Councillor Nicola Rogers said:

“I would have thought there’s no reason not to spend the £1,500 (to burn the lines off) but it is better to start with a vision rather than just addressing one element of the issue.”

Councillor Caroline Finch suggested, as an alternative, whether the old lines could just be painted over in grey to match the road surface.

Shore road

Removing the lines may look better but does it make it harder to step safely off the pavement?

Shore road

Paint has been creatively used to highlight the drains and could be used elsewhere

Consultation with Accessible Swanage

Councillor Gary Suttle then added that any action should take into account the partially sighted, as the double yellow lines do help to mark out the edge of the road from the pavement.

This then prompted councillor Mike Bonfield to suggest that the newly set up Accessible Swanage group should be contacted as part of a wider consultation on the matter.

It was then agreed to set up a town council working party to create a plan of action in consultation with others. 

At the start of the meeting in public participation time local resident Cliff Sutton, in reference to this item on the agenda, suggested that plenty could be done to improve the area including more pots and plants.   

The measures to make the closed section of Shore Road less road-like, will now be considered by the newly elected councillors after the local council election on Thursday 2nd May 2024 and likely to be brought back to full council for approval.

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