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Barnstaple and North Devon are facing exciting times. As work picks up on building the Western Bypass, the aspirations of so many people for a real impact to be made on the travel and transport problems in the area are becoming a reality.

But it doesn’t stop there. Alongside the Bypass, Devon County Council and North Devon District Council have ambitious plans to invest in the development of the town and improve the overall quality of life for the thousands of people who live and work in Barnstaple.

Now we need your help to shape the future of the town by giving you the opportunity to have your say over how one of the most exciting new areas of public space should look and be used.

There is no doubt that the Western Bypass will make a huge difference to the amount of traffic travelling through Barnstaple everyday. However, it has been recognised that as the local economy continues to grow and people alter their driving patterns there is a real danger that quieter routes will become congested once again.

To tackle this issue, Devon County Council and North Devon District Council have worked on a joint transport and land use strategy which included public consultation in May last year. Over 2,200 people attended the exhibition at the Pannier Market and Queens Theatre and several hundred more viewed it via the web.

Feedback was very positive with 87% supporting, or mostly supporting, the objectives of the transport strategy. Clear views were expressed on what made walking, cycling and buses attractive to people and many felt that improving parking on the edge of town would reduce the need to drive in to the centre.

The Square and The Strand:

There was strong support for the proposals for The Square and The Strand, with 75% of respondents generally agreeing with the plans and 72% endorsing the principle of making The Strand one-way away from The Square.

With over 10,000 pedestrians and cyclists crossing The Square and more than 475 buses and 30,000 other vehicles passing through The Square each day, a scheme is needed which will support the Bypass and make the area more attractive.

The opening of the Bypass is expected to lead to a 50% reduction in traffic on The Strand and a 20% reduction on Longbridge. In addition, if The Strand is made one-way there would be the bonus of a 50% reduction in traffic in Rolle Street.

However, additional schemes are needed if the town is to maintain this level of success. The proposals for the Strand and Square are the cornerstone of a series of schemes planned to maximise the impact of the bypass. The proposals have now been worked up in detail and include:

The Strand becoming one-way from The Square. Detailed proposals for traffic restrictions on the Strand will be advertised next summer.
A new public space in front of the museum in The Square.
Taw Vale realigned as it enters The Square with only buses and taxis allowed to enter The Square from the Newport direction.
Improved cycle route across The Square.
Improved walking routes across The Square.
Enhancement of the open space along The Strand.

The £1.2million scheme aims to reduce the impact of traffic in the area and encourage more people to walk, cycle or take the bus as well as supporting the regeneration of the town.

Work on The Square is scheduled to begin at the time of the Bypass opening with completion in early 2008. Work will then start on The Strand improvements, finishing in late 2009.

We feel it is important that readers have a chance to help influence the future look and feel of The Square. That’s why we are giving you the chance to let us know how you would like the new public space in front of the museum to look and what it should be used for.

Would you like to see seating and lighting in the area? If so, where should this be and what should it look like? Could you see the area being used for public exhibitions and the North Devon Festival? And how much grass, planting, landscaping and hard surfacing should there be and what materials should be used?

Click here for more info.

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