The project is no longer called Love Woodbridge and Melton and is now known as Active Travel Woodbridge
Love Woodbridge and Melton Newsletter – September 2023
Read the first monthly newsletter from the project team. You can sign up to receive future newsletters by email using their sign up form.
Statement from Melton Parish Council regarding the Love Woodbridge and Melton/Mini Holland Scheme – September 2023
There has been a lot of discussion about the Love Woodbridge and Melton Project recently on social media. The comments suggest that the purpose of the project remains unclear and residents are fearful that it will have a detrimental impact on their lives. Although this is not Melton Parish Council’s project, we have spent a lot of time working with the Suffolk County Council team and County Councillor Alexander Nicoll to discover what the project hopes to achieve and how Melton might get some benefit from any funding awarded. The following outlines what we know so far about the project and I hope explains what Melton Parish Council (MPC) has been doing and what we are hoping to achieve by engaging with the project team.
In February 2020 the Government announced £2bn of funding nationally for active travel to support its aim to double cycling and increase walking by 2025. This was to encourage all Local Authorities to deliver new and improved active travel infrastructure that benefits individuals, communities and the wider society.
Suffolk County Council (SCC) was invited to submit an expression of interest for ‘intensive investment’ in a ‘Mini-Holland’ scheme. These schemes are intended to increase walking and cycling levels while having minimal impact on the surrounding roads over the longer-term.
Having assessed various locations across the county, SCC strongly believed that Woodbridge, linking with some of Melton, could be best-placed to capitalise on the huge benefits of the funding for this type of scheme. To deliver the scheme, SCC intended to introduce: –
- Marketing campaigns to encourage people to walk and cycle more
- Free cycle training for all
- Engagement with schools and creation of school safe streets
- Updated town cycle maps and include walking routes
- Frequent Dr Bike sessions and training for people to maintain their own bikes
- Incentives for businesses to support staff to active travel (i.e. to walk or cycle)
- Car clubs (to share similar journeys)
- Cycle, ebike and ecargo bike hire schemes.
Physical measures would include: –
- Creation of low traffic neighbourhoods through a range of trials leading to permanent changes based on the outcomes
- Delivery of high priority segregated walking and cycling routes to neighbouring communities such as Martlesham, Melton and Grundisburgh
- Redesign of key junctions to place pedestrians and cyclists as the highest priority road user
- Further pedestrianisation of the main retail area in the town centre
- Reallocation of road space to widen footways for pedestrians particularly on main direct routes into the town centre
- Improved and secure cycle parking at all key destinations in the town as well as working with estates within the town to create similar in residential areas
The hope was that by improving the walking and cycling options, residents would feel more inclined to walk, cycle, scoot or use mobility aids rather than using their cars for short journeys because; –
- Road Safety would improve
- Air quality would improve
- Health and wellbeing would improve; and
- The economy of Woodbridge and the surrounding area would improve because of less traffic in the main shopping areas.
In May 2022 £80k was awarded to SCC to work up a detailed feasibility study which was used to apply for the Active Travel England funding, competing against other authorities in the country.
Over the following 6 months, MPC raised several concerns about the proposals being put forward because of the potential major impact on the Bury Hill area, Woods Lane, Wilford Bridge Road, Melton Road and the crossroads. We were concerned that roads considered as ‘rat runs’ were in fact access roads heavily used by residents and the outlying villages beyond Melton to access Woodbridge and its facilities. Closure of some of these roads might increase traffic on other roads already heavily congested and would close off direct access to some village facilities.
The Parish Council and Cllr Nicoll continued to voice concerns about the proposals being put forward. In February 2023, there were still references to Station Road and Bredfield Road being rat runs but at least MPC had managed to influence the submission with a statement about increased consultation needing to take place.
The feasibility study bid for £17m to undertake measures across Woodbridge and Melton. However, the Government cut funding for Active Travel England’s programme from £200m to £50m over 2 years. As a result of this and MPC’s concerns about the proposals for Melton, the SCC project team decided to focus on infrastructure proposals in the south and centre of Woodbridge, building on previous discussions with Woodbridge Town Council particularly around 20mph speed limits.
SCC received £5.13m for these physical infrastructure measures in Woodbridge. However, as we understand it, what will be installed in Woodbridge has yet to be finalised. Throughout September, several opportunities to drop in and talk to the project team have been made available to allow you to find out more about the proposals and to voice your thoughts. Further engagement opportunities are expected to take place.
Proposals for Melton are still on the table for discussion to be funded in the next phases of the overall project when monies are released by Government. It is likely that additional funding will also be dependent on the success of and support for the first phase in Woodbridge.
The Parish Council thinks it is a good thing to improve facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and those using wheelchairs and/or mobility scooters. We want to see our pavements and roads improved and we would like to see better opportunities to walk and cycle in parts of the village where it might be possible to do so. During Covid, because the local roads were a lot quieter, many people felt safer and would happily use an alternative method for short distances rather than using their cars. Sadly, with traffic levels returning to pre-pandemic levels, some now feel much safer jumping in their cars than using an alternative. MPC thinks that with investment, certain facilities could be improved making it safer for people to walk or cycle again, reducing congestion and improving the local environment. However, it is essential that options are researched, data is analysed and residents consulted before any changes are made. Wherever possible, changes should be made initially on a temporary basis so that their effects can be evaluated.
MPC will continue to post information about the project as it becomes available on this website and you are welcome to come along to Full Council meetings where the project will continue to be discussed. Meeting dates are on the website and the village noticeboards.
We understand information will also be posted on the SCC project website and Facebook page.
Carol Gradwell, Chair of Melton Parish Council
Find out the latest information on the project website, follow Love Woodbridge and Melton on Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Suffolk County Council’s Love Woodbridge and Melton project team will be holding further engagement events in the area in September.
Thursday 7th September – Whisstocks Place, Woodbridge – 1pm to 4pm
This ties in with the Tour of Britain cycling event which will be passing through Melton and Woodbridge around 2.30/3pm. Find out more about the Tour of Britain
Saturday 16th September – Woodbridge Shire Hall – 10am to 12pm
Thursday 28th September – Melton Parish Council Office, 17 Riduna Park – 6pm to 8pm
These are drop in engagement events where you can find out more about the project and give your thoughts and feedback.
Press Release – August 2023
Suffolk County Council’s Love Woodbridge and Melton team held an engagement event in Woodbridge last week. We understand that many of you were disappointed by the event and there is a great deal of confusion about the project. Here is the latest press release from the team which we hope will help clarify a few points:
The Love Woodbridge and Melton project is a partnership between Suffolk County Council, East Suffolk Council, Woodbridge Town Council and Melton Parish Council, which aims to connect communities and create people-friendly streets for everyone to enjoy.
As part of the project, Suffolk County Council has so far secured more than £5million in funding from Active Travel England to develop walking and cycling schemes.
The county council has recently held engagement events in Woodbridge and Melton during which residents and visitors had the opportunity to find out more about the project and discuss how more people can be encouraged to get out and about and enjoy the local area on foot and by bike.
Last year, over a period of six months, Suffolk County Council completed a Feasibility Study which looked at traffic flows, current walking and cycling infrastructure, and people’s travel patterns to see what might work in the area. It also looked at best practice elsewhere in the UK, as well as in Europe, where they’ve embraced active travel and seen commerce and tourism benefit.
The interventions outlined in the Feasibility Study are proposals only and have not been finalised. They all support active travel, but the county council recognises that for some people cars are essential, and so none of the proposed interventions will prevent motorised access. The project is about creating more opportunities for residents to choose walking, cycling, and wheeling for some of their journeys. By giving people the opportunity to drive less and cycle and walk more, they will consequently enjoy cleaner air, safer streets, and less traffic and congestion.
Further work is needed to develop the interventions which involves more engagement with residents, businesses and visitors. This will include further engagement events, as well as a formal public consultation about the principles of the project, likely to take place at the end of the year.
Please note that this project is being run by Suffolk County Council, not Melton Parish Council, although we are heavily involved as consultees and the project is discussed at every Full Council meeting.
In Partnership with East Suffolk Council, Woodbridge Town Council and Melton Parish Council, Suffolk County Council (SCC) wants to create people friendly streets in Woodbridge and Melton for everyone to enjoy. Whether you are walking, cycling, scooting or sitting down to enjoy the surroundings, SCC wants to give everyone the opportunity to love the outside more with cleaner, prettier and better-connected streets in Woodbridge and Melton.
Our next engagement event will be in the Market Square and at Whisstocks Place in Woodbridge on Thursday 10th August from 10am until 2pm.
You can find out more about the Love Woodbridge and Melton project, there is a colouring competition for children, there will be some electric bikes to have a look at and we will have our Dr Bike service offering FREE MOTs and minor repairs (at Whisstocks Place), so bring along your bike!!
In March 2022, Suffolk County Council was one of 19 local authorities to be awarded £79,947 by the Department for Transport (DfT) to develop a feasibility study for setting out how a Mini Holland scheme could be implemented in Woodbridge and Melton (see Appendix A for a boundary of the Mini Holland area). The funding was awarded after Suffolk County Council submitted a bid to the DfT’s call for Expressions of Interest for areas outside of London that could be suitable for a Mini Holland scheme.
Presently, Mini Holland schemes exist in three areas in London and provide a holistic approach to improving access to an area for walking and cycling, whilst also balancing the needs of public transport and private car users.
Work on the feasibility study has commenced with consultants, WSP and Bespoke Transport Ltd, and meetings have taken place with key stakeholders to help develop the feasibility study. Meetings have been held with Woodbridge Town Council, Melton Parish Council and the local County Councillor for Woodbridge. Information has also been shared with East Suffolk Councillors for the area and district officers, as well as with residents and businesses. It is important that the feasibility study incorporates the views of local people, which must also be evidenced as part of the feasibility study.
Love Woodbridge and Melton branding has been developed for the purpose of giving the project an identity, which has been necessary for raising awareness about the project with councillors, the public and other stakeholders.
Suffolk County Council officers organised public engagement events in Woodbridge to promote the Love Woodbridge and Melton project. Events took place on:
- Wednesday 17th August at Whisstocks Place
- Thursday 18th August at Woodbridge Market
The objective of the events was to collect information about the travel habits and transport demands of the local population, businesses and visitors. This data will help inform decisions on the transport interventions that are needed, which will help provide safer routes for waking and cycling but will also seek to improve access by other transport modes.
A total of 68 surveys were completed across the two days and the overall feedback was positive and supportive of the project. Local residents and businesses were open for discussion and keen to share their ideas on how moving around Woodbridge and Melton can be made easier, more enjoyable and safer. Comments from visitors to the area were more focussed on the area of the River Deben and the river path in particular.
The public event on Wednesday was also attended by Cycling UK who provided Dr Bike sessions free of charge. These sessions were very popular with a constant flow of individuals with their bikes who varied from: local residents, commuters, families and visitors to the area.
On Thursday 8th September Suffolk County Council Officers walked around Woodbridge and Melton dropping off letters to local businesses about the project with a link to a survey. The aim of the survey is to collect businesses’ thoughts on the street / area their business is based and where we can improve local connections and access to help encourage more people to get out and about. Approximately, 100 letters were given out. The survey closes on 30th September 2022. Here is a link to the survey for businesses.
Work has also begun to engage with the local schools and other groups (such as disability groups). Primary Schools have been asked to cascade a survey to parents and Secondary Schools have been asked to cascade a survey to pupils about their school travel habits and what we could do to encourage more people to walk and cycle to school. An engagement event for pupils and parents is currently being planned with Kyson Primary School for a Friday before half term. This offer has been extended to all schools in Woodbridge and Melton.
In addition to capturing the views and opinions of local people and stakeholders, WSP is reviewing a variety of data on travel behaviours in Woodbridge and Melton to identify the transport interventions. This includes data on: traffic numbers, traffic speed, route demand and transport mode trends.
These are all initial tests at this stage and will be reviewed and revisited as the project progresses.
APPENDIX A – WOODBRIDGE AND MELTON MINI HOLLAND BOUNDARY