Wye Moves Working Group
Highway Improvement Plans (HIP) are a new, community-led approach, promoted by Kent County Council as the way forward. Wye Parish Council and Wye Moves have been working through the pandemic to find solutions to our traffic and parking problems.
How can we manage the impact of travel in Wye on safety, climate change, decarbonisation and air quality, and support active travel?
The 1984 Village Appraisal described Wye's chronic traffic and parking problems 40 years ago. Today, the problem is worse as we have more houses, a growing population and many more vehicles, but the same old roads.
In response, the Parish Council is working on a Highways Improvement Plan (HIP) with the help of volunteers. After public consultation and refinement the HIP will be presented to KCC Highways for action.
Wye Moves is a Parish Council working group formed to co-ordinate local knowledge, identify and assess risks and opportunities, gather evidence and support the preparation of the HIP.
As a start, the draft proposals in Phase 1 aim to improve traffic flow around Wye village by making changes to double yellow lines and parking bays. Less traffic congestion will help air quality and improve walkability and improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
Wye Highway Improvement Plan
Developing the HIP is a major undertaking as there is long list of improvement works needed across the parish. To make the tasks manageable the Parish Council needs to prioritise and draw in local knowledge and professional expertise. Wye Moves is focussed on the risks and benefits associated with known hazards and constraints in eleven locations. In no particular order these complex and interrelated risk factors include:
• Traffic speed
• Traffic density
• Traffic flow (parking, obstructions)
• Pedestrian flow (walkability)
• Pedestrian concentration (shops, schools)
• Visibility (sight-lines)
Of these factors, traffic flow, parking and obstructions are the least difficult to address in Phase 1 of the HIP.
Draft HIP plans for consultation
Wye Moves: the context
Kent County Council (KCC) has limited money available for highway engineering projects and its first priority is the Casualty Reduction Programme. This funds works which will improve road safety, and reduce the number of crashes or the severity of personal injuries. Wye has a large Conservation Area, and over eighty listed buildings. Therefore any highway engineering works will affect the setting of these heritage assets, so the design and choice of materials need great care to avoid causing harm.
Road crashes which resulted in personal injury
CrashMap data for Wye 1998 - 2018 (excludes 'collision only' road traffic crashes). Data source: DfT. Background map: Google.
Highway proposal evaluation
KCC has a three step evaluation process to evaluate all highway improvement proposals. The first step is to check the history of the site for crashes within the last three years which resulted in personal injury. (To count, these crashes must have been reported and validated by Kent Police, so the majority of minor collisions are not registered on the crashmap records).
Therefore, KCC is unlikely to consider an improvement scheme for a site with no crash history, unless there is support from community representatives. KCC states that:
- 'To suggest safety changes to the highway, your first point of contact is your local parish council or local district councillor or your county member. They will need the crash data you obtained in step 1 or your reasons for promoting the changes. It may also be that your county member or parish council are able to financially support your request.
- If they are not supportive, then it would be very difficult for us (KCC) to prioritise your request and you should not contact us
- If they are supportive they will contact us and let us know the extent of community support for change.'
Evidence of need
With the need to show community support for change in mind, Wye Moves is gathering the evidence of need for improvements and local support for changes. This includes for example, changes to road layouts, speed, parking restrictions and signage. This evidence is essential to build a funding case for highway improvements, and to lever contributions to the costs from housing developers.