There was a full house at Rogate Village Hall when innovative plans to reduce the impact of traffic through the centre of the village were unveiled at a public meeting.
The ambitious scheme has been on the drawing board for more than four years, but West Sussex County Council has now agreed to carry out the first phase of work which is set to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, later this year.
It is a personal triumph for parish councillor Fiona Dix, who has led the campaign to reduce speed and improve safety since the issue was first raised.
And her hard work has led to a ground breaking scheme of ‘shared space’ pioneered in the Netherlands.
If this pilot project is successful it could be rolled out in other villages across West Sussex where major roads divide communities raising safety issues.
“I couldn’t believe how many people came to the meeting and I would like to thank all villagers for their support. We took a vote and people were overwhelmingly behind this scheme,” said Fiona.
“I was so pleased they were interested enough to come along. Everybody loved the idea from the start when Ben Hamilton-Baillie brought along his initial plans at our first public meeting.”
She said the final plan which will be implemented this year was a compromise drawn up from the original plans.
“What we have is a West Sussex County Council highways interpretation of the original because the cost was too great and because they were concerned about the safety and efficacy of some of the measures which were new to them and of which they had no experience.”
She said the scheme would be the second largest to be carried out in the county this year.
“It’s a major project, a coup for us as a village and a pioneering project for highways and the national park.”
The first phase will be carried out from the western end of the Parsonage Estate through the village centre to the Renault Garage.
It will consist of entry gateway features, removal of centre lines, highlighted junction, footway widening, realignment of small section of the carriageway and improved parking.
“The parish council very much hope the national park will also participate in the project,” said Fiona, “helping us with the aesthetic things like the gateways, street furntirue, the church lychgate, providing volunteers and contributing financially.
“I’d like to thank the parish council, its chairman Steve Williamson and all the members of the traffic group RATA,” said Fiona, “It has been hard work to get here and I have had to learn to be patient and take things step by step, but we hope this scheme will be a resounding success and the county council will start the implementation of the second phase.”
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