AN INNOVATIVE scheme to slow down speeding traffic along the busy A272 through the middle of Rogate is being investigated by villagers.
The ‘shared space’ scheme, which has been proposed by Rogate’s West Sussex county councillor Gordon McAra, is already widely used in Europe to reduce speed where major roads impact on community life.
Rogate villagers have been fighting for safety measures for more than a decade, to help them cross the A272 which divides the village.
They ruled out plans for a £50,000 pedestrian crossing at the junction of the road with Habin Hill beside the church. But they are still concerned about the dangers of crossing the road to get to the primary school, the church, bus stops and the village shop.
But now West Sussex County Council has agreed to put £10,000 of these allocated funds into an investigation into the feasibility of ‘spared space’ in the village.
“The idea, already widely used in Holland, is to make drivers much more cautious by taking away their normal crutches such as signs, zig-zags and other road markings,” said Cllr McAra.
“Instead changes would be introduced such as soft tree planting, changes to the angle of the road and the road surface.
“The idea is to make drivers go more slowly because they are having to look around rather than just having the right to belt through.
“The concept is that drivers, pedestrians and other road users all have the right to share and it works abroad.”
Speaking at a meeting of the county council’s county local committee, parish councillor Fiona Dix said the proposals would reduce speed and ‘return the centre of the village to a village, by getting motorists to slow down and look around them’.
“What we are trying to do is to re-engineer the road to slow traffic down,” she added.
Chairman of the parish council Elizabeth Brown added: “I think this is something really appropriate for the South Downs National Park.
“So many people are going to see the beauty around us and if we can enable people to be more appreciative of the surroundings, I think it is a very positive move.”
Representatives from other villages said they thought the scheme could also be used to solve traffic problems in communities suffering across the Midhurst and Petworth area.
They asked if the investigation could be widened to include the issues in other villages.
Chairman of the committee Michael Brown told the meeting: “It is not Rogate-specific.”
He said it was possible the results would lead to improvements not just for Rogate, but far beyond as well.
They agreed to allocate £10,000 of the money earmarked for the crossing scheme to fund the study.