TWO partial road closures are among measures being put in place to help with social distancing in the centre of New Milton following the reopening of non-essential shops.
The town council has been given the go-ahead by Hampshire County Council for the work which it hopes will provide a safer environment to encourage more shoppers to return to the high street amid the relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown.
From Sunday a small part of Old Milton Road will be temporarily closed, from the traffic lights junction with Station Road to the Elm Avenue junction.
As reported in the A&T, this work will involve the left-hand lane from Station Road south being coned off at the traffic lights to allow pedestrians to spill onto it. This would address a narrow section of pavement stretching from outside Superdrug to Charles Nobel jewellers on the corner.
The closure of Station Road’s junction with Old Milton Road is also intended to ensure safer passage for pedestrians negotiating the opposite corner outside Kimbers carpet store.
Both corners have been described as “blind” by the town council, which said pedestrians often bump into each other while using them. Without the closure, it said it would have been impossible to maintain at least one metre of social distance at these points.
On Sunday, a temporary road closure will also be put in place at a small section of Osborne Road from its junction with Station Road north towards Spencer Road.
This is to help with safer traffic movement and pedestrian passage around the Lloyds Bank area towards New Milton Disability Information Service and Shoecare.
Access to the New Forest District Council car parks in Elm Avenue and Osborne Road, as well as existing businesses, will be maintained together with on-street parking in Station Road.
A town council spokesperson said: “New Milton Town Council wishes to encourage shoppers back to our local high street to support local shops and businesses by providing the safest environment possible.
“The safety of our residents and visitors is paramount, and we would like everyone to enjoy the wide variety of our shops on offer, in a safe and secure environment. We have been working closely with HCC and NFDC regarding this.
“That is why we are implementing these additional measures following the recent relaxation of some restrictions, noting that social distancing remains inasmuch as the minimum guideline now is one metre-plus, but it remains at two metres where at all possible.”
The council’s town development manager, Suna King, added: “We are also keen that our town centre provides a pleasurable environment to shoppers.
“We’re especially proud of our independent traders right now, not just for all the safety measures they’ve been implementing themselves – but for how much they do to welcome and help customers, to give them a great shopping experience.”
Since last Monday’s shopping relaunch there has been controlled entry to stores as well as signage along the length of Station Road encouraging social distancing on the pavements.
HCC previously told the A&T New Milton would be the first to see the “implementation of measures to assist with social distancing and cycling and walking”. Lymington and Totton are among other towns set to follow.