Published: 06:00, 26 June 2020
A section of seafront road could be converted to being one-way with cycle lanes and widened pavements.
Kent County Council (KCC) is considering whether to give the green light to plans to transform Central Parade in Herne Bay.
The one-way system would be introduced between the junctions with Lane End and Pier Avenue, with motorists only being allowed to travel east along the route.
Town centre councillor Andrew Cook says this would allow the authority to narrow the 500-metre stretch of road.
“Those pavements are usually full of people in the summer standing shoulder to shoulder; that can’t happen now,” he said.
“At the moment, there’s a whole load of issues with cyclists because more of them are getting out there and they’re cycling on pavements.
“Therefore, the idea – if it was one-way along the front – would allow more room for cyclists and pedestrians to socially distance.”
Cllr Cook says the scheme would be trialled before a decision is made on whether to make the route one-way.
KCC is deciding whether to go-ahead with a raft of similar schemes across the county that are designed to discourage car use and allow more space for pedestrians and cyclists.
“It’s about freeing up the roads,” Cllr Cook explained. “Part of the strategy is to lower the number of people on public transport.
“We’re also trying to work out how to encourage business in many different ways, taking all the social-distancing and Covid regulations into consideration.
“There’s a serious problem with how we’re going to cope with social distancing. The economics of this for businesses is absolutely horrendous.”
This comes a month after Canterbury City Council announced it would defer a vote on proposals to pedestrianise Central Parade between Station Road and Pier Avenue until next year.
It was originally hoped an 18-month trial of the £30,000 plaza project would begin this summer.
It is one of several schemes – including the demolition of the former Tivoli Arcade in Central Parade – the cash-strapped local authority has delayed to save money.
Council documents last month predicted it would be left with a shortfall of more than £12 million by the end of the financial year as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Cllr Cook continued: “The plaza would become part of the scheme, if the road systems work out.”
“We cannot say exactly what schemes will be going ahead. There are a number across the county to be considered."
A KCC spokesman said the authority is not able to confirm if the one-way road scheme along the seafront will be going ahead until government funds are finalised.
He added: “We cannot say exactly what schemes will be going ahead. There are a number across the county to be considered.
“I’m hopeful we’ll hear back from government this week and can announce initial plans.”