A CONTROVERSIAL scheme making the main route through Brockenhurst one-way has been dropped after two weeks following criticism from traders and councillors.
Brookley Road had been blocked off at the Watersplash to stop cars entering the village there, while further restrictions prevented vehicles arriving from Burley Road via The Rise.
There was also an extended pavement between the butchers and Pot Pourri stores on the north side to allow pedestrians to social distance. The measures were jointly introduced by the parish council, Brockenhurst Business Association (BBA) and Hampshire County Council.
However, while the BBA and shop owners were consulted beforehand, villagers had not and many were shocked. Unhappy traders included Steve Jose, who runs the award- winning Bakehouse and described the changes as a “massive own goal”.
This week the main route reverted back to being two-way, with parish council chair Cllr Pete Wales explaining the decision was taken following feedback and a meeting between the agencies involved.
“Brookley Road has reverted back to two-way traffic, reducing the footway extension section along the northern pavement,” Cllr Wales said.
“After agreement with a shopkeeper, a new ‘parklet’ is being designed to cater for social distancing and queuing on the southern pavement.
“The footprint is presently marked outside the relevant shop by barriers. Spaces have been agreed for two bike racks provided through the parish council: one outside Tesco (again marked by barriers) and the other on the pavement at the Watersplash.
“A third, smaller, bike rack is to be located centrally after agreement is reached. There will shortly be no parking on Rhinefield Road between the Watersplash and The Rise.”
Cllr Wales continued: “The plans remain dynamic and are being developed through close review for their effectiveness with the next review due in three weeks’ time.”
The initial alterations were a Temporary Emergency Scheme, enabled by central government and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
The scheme promotes quick changes to centres to make them safe for shoppers in the wake of lockdown being eased, and its guidelines prioritise action before consultation.
Cllr Wales added: “The parish council are acting within these guidelines whilst continuing to listen to the views of both residents and traders.”
He said a tracing app showed there were currently 26 active Covid-19 cases in the New Forest but concerns remained a spike could happen nationally.
“Therefore it is important that we continue to work to keep our local area as safe as is possible,” he added.
“The parish council and BBA are continuing to work very closely with a view to not only keeping shoppers safe but also ensure any alterations do not have a detrimental effect on trade.
“Our message is Brockenhurst very much remains open for business and we take everyone’s wellbeing very seriously.”
The one-way scheme had been slammed by Brockenhurst district councillor Maureen Holding, who welcomed the reversal, saying: “The right thing has been done.”
She said: “I know people are very pleased and especially so are the traders, the ones that actually retail. I know one or two traders were in support but they were running businesses that are not retail.
“I was absolutely delighted because I know this had made a big difference to some shops. Some traders have come to me now and said, ‘Thank God, we are getting people back in the shop now’.”