The south end of Shore Road in Swanage, which is closed during the summer from The Mowlem to the junction with Victoria Avenue, is not to reopen to vehicles during winter 2022/3.
Dorset Council has issued an experimental order to keep the southern end of Shore Road closed for a trial period over the next 18 months, after Swanage Town Council raised concerns about public safety.
The section of Shore Road that is closed during the summer will not reopen to traffic on Saturday 1st October 2022
Usually closed from 1st May until 30th September each year
This section of Shore Road, which runs in front of the beach huts and adjacent to the beach, is usually closed between 1st May until 30th September each year to make it easy and safe for individuals and families to use the seafront facilities.
While that covers the main busy summer period, it doesn’t cover Easter or other public holidays which can still attract a large number of visitors who rent a beach hut or stroll along the seafront.
Gates block off the road to traffic
“Safety is our top priority”
Chair of Swanage Town Council’s road and transport committee, councillor Mike Whitwam said:
“Swanage Town Council requested this closure to ensure pedestrian safety all year round. Visitors are increasingly coming to Swanage throughout the year and it can be confusing to many when they suddenly discover there’s traffic on Shore Road, when they’re more used to it being closed to vehicles.
“Safety is our top priority and in particular young children, who can enthusiastically run from the beach huts towards the beach or the ice cream hut, not realising there’s a road in between, as opposed to the summer’s pedestrianised area.”
Increasing all year round use of the beach huts mean that it’s not just the summer when it’s busy
Survey of residents
Councillors voted unanimously in October 2020 to request Dorset Council, as the highways authority, to permanently close the southern section of Shore Road.
This followed a survey of residents, which found that of those who responded, 62 percent said that it would be beneficial if Shore Road was closed permanently between The Mowlem and the junction with Victoria Avenue.
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.
Majority in favour but 38 percent against permanent closure
Of those surveyed, 38 percent thought that permanent closure wouldn’t be beneficial.
When Shore Road is closed, vehicles have no alternative but to drive down Station Road which is a busy shopping area.
It also means that there is no on-street parking in Shore Road near the town centre. There are still disabled parking spaces in front of The Mowlem.
All year closure will allow more events and al fresco dining
“It is an accident waiting to happen”
The town council also received letters from visitors concerned about the issue. Following a visit in Easter 2022 one wrote:
“My children struggle that for part of the year it’s closed but not at Easter – constant reminders have to be given and we do not feel safe walking along this stretch of the road.
“This Easter it has been very busy and it is an accident waiting to happen and be fatal. I watched a number of small children yesterday come down from the park and nearly run into the road.”
Views are being sought
Because this is an experimental order there is no requirement for advance public consultation, but public views are sought in real time, while the closure is in place. The consultation is open until Thursday 3rd November 2022.
All comments, whether in support or against, can be submitted to Dorset Council via its website. Scroll down to find the section relating to Swanage and Shore Road
- The public notice is on the Dorset Council website