Market Street in St Andrews should not be pedestrianised – that is the long-awaited conclusion of a consultation into the issue.
More than 1500 people and dozens of local businesses took part in Playfair Consultancy Group’s study, sharing their views on the street and its future.
While around one third of respondents indicated that they would like to see it pedestrianised, no change was the preferred option among those who took part.
Around 53 per cent of residents and 84 per cent of businesses who responded called for it to be left alone.
The report concluded that, while there is some demand for pedestrianisation, the focus of residents was on making sure the street remained as accessible as it is now. It also found that although many locals and businesses thought making the change would improve Market Street’s atmosphere, this was not enough to override concerns about accessibility and the possible impact it would have on businesses.
It says that until concerns about parking, which people currently view as inadequate, was addressed, and wider transport policies put in place, pedestrianisation is not possible.
It identified parking as one of the key factors in case studies of successful pedestrianisation schemes.
The report also estimated that the full cost of pedestrianising the street could be as much as £23,000.
Information about the street also supported the argument that it should not change.
Between 2013-18 there were just 40 reported traffic incidents, of which just seven occurred in the last three years. Pollution figures were also low.
Data from 2010 also indicated that Market Street is the quietest main street in the town.
From speaking to residents, the report found that most people would not be willing to change their mode of transport, as they thought driving to Market Street was both convenient and necessary.
The five main reasons for this were: concerns about the impact on business, insufficient public transport, the distance they live from Market Street, mobility issues, and the convenience of the current system.
Most residents (64 per cent) said their priority was that local businesses were successful and supported. This was also the top priority for businesses.
There were, however, some organisations in support of the change – St Andrews Preservation Trust and St Andrews Space for Cycling.
The consultation was commissioned by local councillor, Brian Thomson.
“This is probably the most extensive survey that has been carried out to seek views regarding Market Street, and I was delighted that participation in it was so high, with 1520 responses from residents and 55 from businesses,” he said.
“Whilst a significant number of respondents would wish to see some sore of pedestrianisation implemented, the majority wish to see no change to Market Street and, for me, that’s the key finding of the study.
“My view is that, prior to considering such a change to Market Street in more detail, it would need to demonstrated that it is backed by a significant proportion of residents, and that’s clearly not the case at present.
“I’m in agreement with the findings of the study that pedestrianisation should not be pursued at this stage, however, it flagged up other areas of concern – the angle of parking spaces, the prevalence of A-boards, insufficient pedestrian crossing points and a lack of cycling facilities, which is useful to me, as a local councillor, and I’ll be looking to see how some of the issues raised can be addressed.”
Playfair Consultancy will be giving a short presentation on the study at the next meeting of St Andrews Community Council, on Monday, March 4, in the Burgh Chambers at 7pm. Cllr Thomson will provide details on how the report can be viewed in due course.
Frazer Towers from Playfair Consultancy Group added: “Respondents fear losing vehicle access and on street parking would deter people from using the street, with businesses suffering as a consequence.
“Therefore, improvements to parking and transport flow within St Andrews must take place before the majority in town would consider supporting pedestrianisation.
“Indeed, plentiful availability of parking was identified as a key factor in case study examples of successful pedestrianisation schemes.
“While ‘no change’ is the preferred option for the street layout, there is still demand for smaller scale improvements such as the re-angling of parking bays and reducing pavement clutter which would improve user experience for both pedestrians and motorists.”
Mr Towers concluded: “Finally, Playfair would like to extend our thanks to all those who participated in our consultation.”