Majority want permanent closure of Shore Road in Swanage

Of the residents who responded to the Swanage Town Council survey, 62 percent said that it would be beneficial if Shore Road was closed permanently between The Mowlem and the junction with Victoria Avenue.

Swanage Town Council’s transport committee on Wednesday 23rd September 2020, discussed the results of the survey and councillors are now minded to seek the full closure of the south end of the road, but the matter will have to go to a full council meeting for a decision.

Make the request to Dorset Council

If the full council agrees, then it will be up to Swanage Town Council to make the request to Dorset Council, who is the highways authority and has the power to close part of the road permanently.

The south end of Shore Road is already closed to vehicles between 1st May until 30th September each year. This gives the increased number of people using the area during the warmer months, greater space to walk along the beach front and increases safety for pedestrians.

It also means that those hiring the beach huts do not have to cross traffic to get to the beach.

Shore Road in Swanage

Shore Road during lockdown in April 2020

Shore Road likely to be closed temporarily until the end of December 2020

In a separate matter, the committee also decided to ask Dorset Council to keep the south end of Shore Road closed to vehicles for longer than usual this year, just on a temporary basis until the end of December 2020, due to the continuing Covid situation.

This is intended to help social distancing in a busy area next to the seafront.

In favour of closing the road permanently

The survey, which was completed by 847 people, was conducted between 20th January 2020 and 20th March 2020 to find out if local residents would like to see the road closed all year round or not.

The top reason in favour of closing the road permanently was related to safety. Many of the respondents mentioned the confusion over the opening and closing of the road, near miss accidents and parked cars reducing the visibility of pedestrians crossing the road.

Alternative use of the area

Of those who wanted to see it close, suggestions for the alternative use of the area included creating an attractive seating area, a splash area for children, a market and a space for events, exhibitions and games.

Some also thought it would improve the image of the town by having a designated pedestrian area by the seafront, and other positives included boosting tourism, improving the town’s leisure space and increasing beach hut hire.

Reducing the pollution levels and increasing the ‘green’ status of the town was also noted as beneficial, should the road be closed to vehicles.

Busy Swanage seafront and lifeguard hut

The far end of Shore Road already closes from 1st May to 30th September every year

Some thought permanent closure would be detrimental

Comments from those who thought that permanent closure would be detrimental, mainly fell into four categories; congestion, access to other areas of the town, parking and that the current arrangement was suitable as it was.

Other alternative suggestions made by those who were against the permanent closure of Shore Road, included providing a one-way system in De Moulham Road, opening Shore Road permanently, and reducing the speed limit.

Some thought that closure would negatively affect businesses and some suggested that instead of a permanent closure there could be an extension to the closure period to include the Easter holidays.

Other comments or suggestions

Given the opportunity to make any other comments or suggestions regarding Shore Road, respondents noted the confusion due to the road opening in September and closing in May as an area of concern, as well as the issue of parked cars obstructing the view for pedestrians crossing the road.

Further comments included the suggestion of closure of the entire length of Shore Road to vehicles, traffic calming measures such as road humps, a 20 mph speed limit, crossing points or traffic lights.

Beach huts in Shore Road

Closure of the road to vehicles in the summer means that people renting beach huts don’t have to cross traffic to get to the beach

Survey results in full

Would you like to see the existing road closure arrangement:

Close permanently – 59.5 percent
Remain as is – 33.2 percent
Extend the closure – 7.3 percent

Are you concerned about safety along the south end of Shore Road?

Yes – 72.5 percent
No – 27.5 percent

Would permanent closure be beneficial?

Yes – 61.6 percent
No – 38.4 percent

Would permanent closure be detrimental?

Yes – 35.2 percent
No – 64.8 percent

The Shore Road Closure Survey was conducted between 20th January 2020 and closed on 20th March 2020 and was available to complete online, using Google forms, and was promoted via Facebook.

Paper format was also available, and the survey was printed on the Swanage Town Council newsletter, which was delivered to all Swanage homes with postcodes BH19 1 and BH19 2.

The responses received via Google forms was 726 and paper forms returned totalled 121, making the overall total responses 847.

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