There have been many attempts to improve the centre of Moreton-in-Marsh, to address safety, long-stay parking clogging spaces that would be better used for shoppers and visitors, improve access for non-drivers, and reduce traffic congestion. All proposals have failed to gain popular support.

Moreton-in-Marsh Town Council believes the failures have largely been due to a ‘stick but no carrot’ approach, where parking charges and restrictions were proposed without alternatives for the people affected. This could include safer pedestrian access, better cycle access, and improved public transport options.

Cotswold District Council (CDC) states, in its Local Plan 2011-2031 (published August 2018), that “parking and [traffic] congestion hinder the retail and tourism function of the town; adversely affects local residents; and hampers the town’s ability to strengthen/maintain its position as the main service centre for the North Cotswolds. In addition, the car parking at the train station is considered to be inadequate.”

The Town Council therefore grabbed the opportunity in early 2020 to acquire a site near to the train station, to become a Transport Hub. It is vital that we not just facilitate more short, single-person car journeys by just tarmacing over valuable countrside for traditional car parking, as this will make the traffic issue worse.

Instead, a Transport Hub provides a place for long-stay parking, and more sustainable options for local residents and commuters to leave their cars safely at home. The Town Council’s plans tackle the joint issues of parking spaces and traffic congestion.

Traffic and Congestion

Planned development in the town will impact on traffic congestion too; despite 900 new homes being built in the town between 2011 and 2021, the CDC Local Plan allocates lands for hundreds more.

For example, the Dunstall Farm planning application (November 2020) revealed that the two mini-roundabouts in the centre of town will be over-loaded by 2023. Works were requested to widen the approaches to split traffic and increase flow. Many residents regard the mini-roundabouts to already be over-capacity, causing frequent traffic jams along the A429 (Fosse Way).

The Town Council is further concerned that highways changes in Oxfordshire and Warwickshire do not fully consider this situation and take appropriate measures. Please see below for the Town Council’s plans to improve traffic flow throughout the town centre.

Safety

Safety and accessibility on the High Street is also a Town Council priority. Cars overhanging pavements in some areas of the High Street and surrounding streets make it impossible for people with prams or wheelchair uses to get into town. Unsafe parking in some areas of the High Street makes the area look ugly and feel hazardous to pedestrians, affecting footfall for our local businesses.

To this end the Town Council has proposed zoning the High Street to concentrate on what improvements might be required where. We call this plan Make Moreton Accessible.

To help with all of this work, the Town Council has contracted respected Traffic and Movement consultants The Transportation Consultancy (TTC). Technical details and possibilities are currently being worked through, and arguments prepared. When plans and options have been checked for feasibility, cost and deliverability, we will consult the town for feedback and improvements.

Thriving High Street

Our High Street is both very typical of a Cotswold market town, and also unique. The wide, linear central area is much larger and more defined than other market towns in the area, and our majestic row of lime trees almost makes our High Street a ‘Cotswold bulevard’, unlike anywhere else.

Unfortunately, changes in road layout and a perceived need to provide as many car parking spaces as possible, has eroded that historic character, removed trees and devalued iconic landmarks such as the war memorial and the Redesdale Hall.

There is a concern that Moreton-in-Marsh has become a town to drive through, or commute from, rather than a great place to live, work and visit.

The Town Council also respects the calls of businesses on the High Street to make the High Street a more vibrant place for commercial activity, making current businesses more viable and building a strong local economy.

To re-establish Moreton-in-Marsh as a thriving, beautiful and unique Cotswold market town means making the High Street a safer and more pleasant place for people to spend time and money.

The Transport Hub acquired in early 2020 helps the Town Council achieve that aim, by ‘decanting’ long-stay parking into a more appropriate place. This frees space to create the improvements that will result from the Make Moreton Accessible plan.

The Town Council also believes that traffic flows can be improved, again helping to reduce the feeling that Moreton-in-Marsh is congested, noisy and not worth a visit.

The Town Council is also working on improvements to the Redesdale Hall, the most loved building in the town and the heart of the High Street. A better building with a better setting and more events for all will draw people into the High Street, with knock-on benefits for all High Street businesses and the local community.

Many of the these plans and improvements will need the support of Cotswold District Council and Gloucestershire County Council, as well as local residents and businesses. The Town Council has therefore contracted respected Traffic and Movement consultants The Transportation Consultancy (TTC) to help with some of the work, and will hire expertise to help elsewhere. When plans and options have been checked for feasibility, cost and deliverability, we will consult the town for feedback and improvements.