Revitalise the High Street

As a shop keeper on the High Street, I know that many of us have been adversely impacted by covid-19 and the pre-existing issues with the High Street are being brought into sharp focus by the pandemic. As things stand, the High Street is not covid safe and is especially inhospitable for those in wheelchairs or on mobility scooters. We need the kerbs dropped and the High Street pedestrianised at peak times, with a one-way 10mph speed limit at non-peak times. More benches, especially at the top of the High Street; a sculpture or archway at the top to encourage people up and down the street; disabled friendly toilets for adult and baby changing at the top too. We also need to extend the one-way/pedestrianised area down to St Ben’s church on St Benedict Street. We rely heavily on tourism and we need to make the town safe and accessible for all, as well as friendly, attractive and appealing.

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37 comments on “Revitalise the High Street

  1. I disagree with nearly everyone. I am getting on in years now, perhaps some of the above people are not and now have difficulty in walking very far, especially with a hill involved. I am not so bad that I can get a blue badge so that wont help. At the moment my husband can drop me in the high street and then pick me up. I found when the road was closed it was very difficult, thank goodness Earthfare has a back exit. It doesnt look like many of the local shops have replied to this so it would be interesting to hear their comments. I guess making it pedestrian only at weekends as some person suggested would be a compromise but that could be confusing to tourists as well as locals. Then there is all the diverted traffic which doesnt work at all well in Chilkwell Street especially when there is parking all along the other side to the Abbey which often happens.

  2. I would love to see the High St pedestrianised! I’ve been asking for this for years. It is so lovely when the street is closed to vehicles for the Frost Fayre and also when it was closed for a short while in June or July. I thought that was supposed to be for much longer. I heard people say that the shopkeepers were suffering but that was because of lack of people (due to travel restrictions) not lack of cars.

    I don’t think that normally the shop traders would lose out, cos most tourists park somewhere and spend the day, or at least a few hours. We have a beautiful, vibrant town full of interesting and magical shops and events. This is why people come to visit. The High Street is one of the “attractions”. They aren’t gonna not go there. There are many ways of encouraging trade and none of them involve dodging vehicles or waiting to cross the road!

    We could have all sorts of decorations and events on the street. And trees! The cafes and pubs could have outdoor space. We could have buskers and on-going stalls as well as a visiting market, which would make it even more interesting. A children’s play area would be good and a hang-out space for teenagers. And a public green space with a coffee bar & benches (like the Abbey but open to all) where we could all meet each other and chat.

    It would be very beneficial for trade if the car parks were free. It would also relieve congestion in the side streets. However, I don’t suppose that’s possible in the long term – not unless the Government decide to fund local Councils properly. Maybe we could have a swipe card for residents who should surely be entitled to park for free. That would enable passing local trade. Or the car parks could be free for everyone for one hour. People do need to be able to pop into the shops without car parking charges.

    We also need good signage! Not just “Road closed. Diverted traffic”. Something like:
    Welcome to Glastonbury!
    We have pedestrianised our High St so we can all enjoy more space. There are car parks at the top of the street, next to the Town Hall and parallel to the High St on the north side (followed by postcodes &/or directions).
    Come and visit our lovely town!

    Buses don’t stop in the High St so they don’t need to go down it but access for delivery vehicles would need to be sorted. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

  3. At present it is impossible to walk down the high street and observe any sort of social distancing. With the high number of tourists visiting right now I think anything that can be done to give the street over to pedestrians is a very good thing.
    Yes, there are many considerations, and I agree, when the roadworks were on, having the buses stop at B&Q was crazy. This info was not featured on the bus company website, nor were there signs at the two stops at the top of the High St.
    During the closure in July, it was a bit sketchy as mostly empty double decker buses were still allowed through and I noted a lot of cars ignoring the signage, and the advice of the stewards. I feel most people in town would like to see the High St pedestrianised at peak times, and I would hope that the town council can come up with a sensible plan to do this.

  4. Yes please! I’m a Glastonbury resident and I would love to see the High Street pedestrianised. It was so much more peaceful for the few weeks recently when it was free of cars and had a lovely atmosphere that I imagine could only be conducive to tourism. I think it would give our many pilgrims and visitors an even more enjoyable experience.

  5. I run a music shop on Glastonbury High Street and I support pedestrianisation. I can see no reasonable advantage to allowing traffic with the exception of large deliveries and emergency services. When the High Street was temporarily closed to allow social distancing (ironically opened again before our most sociable period) there was a much more relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The temporary measure was inadequate for pedestrian safety. With proper signage and more permanent measures, the High Street could be transformed from bohemian benchers stumbling under boy racers and buses to an appealing go to destination for cultural families to safely bring their kids. Atmosphere is the real commodity this town has to offer and tourism is our main attraction. Let’s make it better.

  6. I am a shop keeper on the High Street and support pedestrianisation from Archers Way to Benedict Street with access for deliveries before 10am and after 5pm. Direction to Car Parks needs to be much clearer and I suggest parking should still be allowed at the top of High Street for disabled drivers.

  7. I’m in favour of pedestrianising the High Street and limiting vehicle access to buses, blue badge holders and essential deliveries (for shops that have no rear parking space). The sense of space, safety and possibility on the High Street during the three-week closure to traffic was wonderful; it’s now, as others have mentioned, hard to navigate the High Street at times because we have many visitors, and keeping social distance on the narrow pavements with all the traffic and the blind bend by the Market Square is extremely difficult. I also agree with the need others have flagged to consult carefully and thoroughly on how a longer term or permanent pedestrianisation of the High Street (or part of the High Street) could work in practice, so the current traffic problems aren’t simply exported to neighbouring streets.

  8. I think pedestrianisation is a good idea. During the recent trial there were issues, mainly because of lack of helpful notices from Mendip. We need clear signposting to carparks, that shops are open and disabled access/deliveries are permitted. Re buses, as there is only one stop in Magdelane St. and one at the top of the High st, so it shouldn’t affect passengers. Once people get used to it it’ll be fine. Other towns are doing it.

  9. Whatever the best proposal is, the worst possible solution would be a one-way traffic system along the High Street. One-way streets result in decline in retail, increased average speed of traffic and the perception that traffic volumes have increased (even though they may not have done). There is an indefinable negative atmosphere about one-way shopping streets, and I believe businesses on them tend to fail. I refer interested parties to , a study of an experimental one-way traffic systen in Keynsham.

  10. We had an opportunity to see a little of how it might be for Glastonbury High Street to be pedestrianised, when it was, briefly, during the coronavirus lockdown. To my surprise I saw that people still walked on the pavements, with hardly any in the road. In a way this isn’t surprising, since it’s the shops that are the real points of attraction.

    What was more notable however was the fact that vehicles still drove down the street (presumably those exempt for purposes of ‘access’), but since everyone thought the street was ‘closed to traffic’, there were some close calls. I myself had to hurry out of the way of vehicles behind me, trying to get past. It seemed more dangerous than just walking on the pavement in normal times. How many people have been run over in the High Street in recent years?

    Another important point is that, if the High Street is pedestrianised, the traffic that normally flows down it would take the alternative route through Lambrook Street and Chilkwell Street. These streets have traffic-calming chicanes which make them totally unsuitable for the extra volume that would result.

    This was also apparent during the brief pedestrianisation of the High Street during the lockdown: the sudden increase in traffic through these streets didn’t slow down, and had difficulty negotiating the traffic-calming chicanes (sometimes actually speeding up to do so) and there were some particularly dangerous moments at the blind bend at the top of Silver Street.

    Visitors with families, often including small children, unfamiliar with the town, often ‘wander’ a bit around this area. There may be collisions and accidents in these narrower streets should they be forced to take the huge extra volume of traffic. The danger might be mitigated by the introduction of a 20mph speed limit, though it’s difficult to see that being introduced, and even with compliance conditions would be very dangerous at the blind bend.

    Apart from the dangers, there’s also the possibility that pedestrianising the High Street would deaden Glastonbury, turning it into yet another of the many lifeless pedestrianised towns, actually reducing tourism and trade.

    I think the idealised view of a pedestrianised High Street in Glastonbury hasn’t been thought through quite thoroughly, and may not turn out to be quite the idyllic picture that people may imagine.

  11. I 100% support pedestrianising the High Street. Especially because we are a place of pilgrimage and tourism, our main street needs to be human-friendly not car-friendly.
    Every time it is pedestrianised it comes alive. Everybody enjoys it.
    Yes I agree there need to be adjustments for disabilities and other access, but they can be organised.
    And Yes the town car parks need much better signposting.
    We have been talking about it for decades. Let’s get on with it.

  12. So many excellent ideas, so why not implement them on a trial basis? Then it could be seen what might work and what needs to be dropped. I wouldn’t like to see a whole raft of measures introduced with the prospect that they can’t be reversed. The buses are too big, yet they need to use the High St, so maybe smaller ones?? I like the idea of cafe tables spilling out further.

  13. The pavements are a pain to negotiate, especially with the speed difference between a local who wants to get somewhere and and wandering tourists. So, pedestrianise the High Street between The Archers Way and Magdalene Street. To stop The Archers Way becoming a rat-run it should be one way northwards between the High Street and the junction with St Edmund’s Road.

    The top half of the High Street would retain the buses in both directions but the lower half from The Archer’s Way to the Town hall bus stops would be reduced to a single lane plus car parking to allow wider pavements. The single lane section of the High Street would need traffic lights to control entry.

    Access for trade deliveries can be before 9AM and after 5PM.

    1. Or just pedestrianise the High St starting at the Monument, as Magdalene St pavements are wider and fewer shops along there, then still easy access to St Dunstan’s car park and Benedict St. I think Glastonians should have a say as well, after all they were here first, before us interlopers, and not many of them use GNB, so maybe leaflets and put it in the local paper?

  14. The High Street is the natural meeting place for locals, the real “forum” where we should be able to walk, sit, chat and freely associate. At the moment, relatively unstructured space is limited to the small Market Place, where it is delightful to share a table outside Heaphy’s or the other nearby cafés. More space like this, please, including seats away from noisy traffic, where office and shop workers can enjoy their packed lunches.

    1. A first step would be to remove all parking except for disabled and loading and see what effect that has.
      I accept that shops need deliveries and that shoppers also sometimes need cars and to be able to park, especially if disabled. There have been high strets that have died due to pedestrianisation so anything needs to be done cautiously and experimentally. We need to make sure it is not going to become a ghost town and with the pist covid economoy we need to be extra careful.
      A lower spoed limit would help, and maybe car-free days? Nothing too drastic.
      We need buses. That is the big challenge.

  15. As a pensioner who relies on the buses coming up and down the High Street. I would like to see all traffic apart from buses diverted. It would be lovely to see more tables and chairs outside.

    1. The buses need to be able to run both ways every day! Next time they make the CRAZY decision to change the bus route so that you have to walk to either B&Q or Avalon Estate at least they could have the decency to put that info on Travel Line and notices up in the bus shelters.

      1. Obvious answer to that is to leave bus stop at top of town ,, then use town hall as turning round point for busses ,, so both stops would remain as normal .

  16. I support partial pedestrianisation of the High Street at weekends (buses allowed), but there are a couple of things which should be sorted along with that. One is poor access/signage to car parks, St. John’s is particularly bad. Another issue is the ridiculous proliferation of A boards on the pavement – they are a nuisance. I have seen people using wheelchairs and walking aids trying to negotiate their way past them with difficulty. I wonder if they shop owners who place them on the street realize what their legal obligations would be if someone fell over them? There must be a better way to signpost the little shops in the alleyways. Perhaps some kind of vertical signage with changeable inserts with the shop name and short description.
    The top end of the High Street needs a bit of love, and perhaps a public loo.
    I am strongly opposed to rickshaws, they always turn out to be a rip-off and a nuisance where they have been introduced, and are not particularly safe with pedestrians.
    All of this will be useless if something isn’t done about the anti-social groups who monopolize our public spaces.

  17. I have long believed that the High Street should be closed to traffic and pedestrianised well before the recent covid-19 related closure. Making it open only to public transport and blue badge holders will make a huge difference to the town centre and I am in favour of the suggestion.
    However, there are a couple of issues that should be kept in mind: that the pedestrianised area should only exist between Archers Way and Benedict Street to maintain access and that provision is made to find somewhere for cars to park that would normally park on the High Street. I’m sure you’re all aware of the tremendous pressure that exists on parking in Glastonbury and it’s high time we had resident only parking areas in surrounding streets, we residents should take priority.

  18. I agree with most of the comments so far but wonder if a step by step approach might be easier to achieve. This summer (until October) we seek to pedestrianise the high street at weekends when the town is really busy. Possibly continue throughout winter or at least on Special Event weekends that attract more people. Over winter we can plan a more permanent solution, talk to shops & businesses, get views from a wide range of users etc etc.

  19. I have lived in Glastonbury ( just off the high street for 30 years) the brief period the high street was closed just after lockdown was lifted was a revelation in terms of how local people behaved and reacted so positively ! The space it gave everyone to move freely and easily, the safety it gave the vulnerable, the lack of noise and fumes made it a public space i was proud of and wanted to be part of. Since then with the return of traffic we have a potentially very dangerous place, in terms of Covid and pollution and mental health issues of many of our residents. We now need more tree’s and safe spaces for all pedestrians to move easily, buses ( small ones) and bikes should be allowed. This all needs to happen asp.

  20. Whatever is decided, please make sure that Blue Badge holders can drive cars up or down the High Street and park. Otherwise we will not be able to go to the shops we need. If you are not disabled you might not realise how important this is !
    Thank you.

  21. I agree that it makes sense to close the High St and Magdelane St to traffic on a permanent basis with the exception of Buses.
    This should have been done over 25 years ago when the By-Pass was opened!

  22. I agree with the well written arguments above, and point to the simple alternative route/diversion for cars, to drive up Fishers Hill and Bere Lane, without losing much time or distance. Recently on the High Street, as a pedestrian, I noticed cram packed pavements with tourists plus locals on a beautiful sunny day, where there was no room to walk past comfortably, and was forced onto the road where I nearly got hit by a car. A friend also did actually get hit by a car whilst avoiding a busy non-distanced group of pedestrians. Now would be an ideal opportunity to choose to make our High Street safe, secure and attractive by reducing car pollution and encouraging more people to safely socially distantly walk on the pavements and browse the shops and maybe sit outside at one of the lovely cafés.

  23. As a High Street visitor, I have found it much more difficult to shop safely since the traffic has been allowed back. I would thus like to see the High Street closed to traffic again – at least at peak visitor times.

    If the High Street is open to traffic, then a one-way system on the pavements, like in Wells, which is clearly signposted, would be essential. On Saturday 22 August the pavements were choc-a-bloc and it was quite unsettling. Glastonbury is a tourist town so any signposting would have to be very clear and possibly even lightly ‘policed’ as many of the people are new.

  24. I believe the High Street would benefit by being pedestrianised for the following reasons:
    less noise, less pollution, less chance of accidents and injuries, more room for people to walk about and socially distance while shopping, browsing and socialising, less impact on surfaces of old buildings, less dirt on surfaces and windows, a more peaceful and friendly atmosphere.
    Clearly there are a lot of tourists in Glastonbury and the High Street is narrow, especially the pavements, so there is little room for manoeuvre. When there is more space for people they become more relaxed; having to dodge past each other or walk in the road becomes a problem for everyone and raises stress levels. I believe all the retail outlets including all the cafés would benefit from a pedestrianised High Street and I hope this happens if it becomes obvious that the majority want it to happen. I hope that the vocal minority will not hold sway as they seem to have in Wells, allegedly, with just three businesses against the proposal. Most people want the High Street closed, especially on Market days, and yet these 3 have, so far, got their way.
    Closure, or not, of the High Street in Glastonbury must be done in a democratic, balanced and fair way with surveys and comments available for all to see. Those involved in coming to a decision should take into account the needs of all those who use the High Street, which might include tourists, but not those who never use the High Street. How is this survey going to sift out the non-users?

  25. Totally agree with all the above and am asking the Town Board to take revitalising the High St one step further – please consider organising two meetings. One meeting where those in favour of solutions which can design Glastonbury as a low traffic neighbourhood;  prioritising people’s safety, well-being & health, over cars. A different meeting for those who disagree.

    There has been too much contention for too long – it is time for the town to come together and work out solutions. Get people in the room, (or in the park under a tarp/ a pub garden) who have broad based agreements.

    Each group can come up with a proposal to go forward for expert LTN analysis. The status quo is no longer an option.

    The comments above mentions cycling. We absolutely need more cycle stands – especially those that hold a wheel. The metal hoops only really allow for 2 bikes at a time. Definitely need one between the co-op and the post office. 

    If Glastonbury marketed itself as a cycle friendly town imagine how that could benefit the local economy? How about cycle paths? Lets get the children out on bikes. The UK has amongst the highest child obesity rates in Europe – lets set an example, become a beacon of inspiration. 

    We would be the first town in the region that I know of to actively invite cyclists. Market the town to cyclists, provide facilities and they will come off the levels and avail themselves of local goods and services. 

    I live on a road very close to the High St – am I concerned about extra traffic? Yes, very concerned which is why I believe we need to take inspiration from continental towns. If we want a town where people occupy streets instead of smelly exhaust fumes it would be good to consult with the experts on low traffic neighbourhoods so we can ensure that the traffic isn’t displaced – it is actually properly re-routed. 

    In the last few  months there has been a profound increase in unsafe driving in the town – lots of cars are racing fast through the town daily. Look at the accident statistics – all over the country children are being run over by cars. Cyclists are being knocked off their bikes. There have been so many near misses in the town in recent months. Please do something. This must stop. Do what you can to keep people alive and without injury.

    Surely it’s time to focus on clean air, safer streets as well as the space to distance?  Come on board, bring it on.

  26. I would prefer to see the High Street pedestrianised but I am not a business owner on the street. I believe the air would be cleaner with few vehicles constantly travelling along it. It would be more peaceful too. The opportunity for cafés to put tables and chairs on the pavement would be good, unless they all had to purchase licences to do this, which might be prohibitive. Other cities (e.g. Copenhagen) design their towns for people first above and beyond the needs of the car and this seems to work better for health issues. Many European towns have seen the benefits of preventing vehicle pollution and congestion in their centres. Glastonbury has many car parks near the High Street so this should not be a problem; I think there are only about 15 parking spaces for a limited time on the High Street anyway. Surely disabled people could be allowed access if they cannot walk far. As this is an ancient High Street I see it as fitting that cars are not constantly using it; the quality of the buildings should be conserved and would become less dirty if there was less traffic and fumes. I am concerned that there should be consensus and broad agreement so would suggest a People’s Assembly to come to a fair decision. I would agree with previous commenter that more trees in the trees would be desirable.

  27. The safety and security of people on the high street as well as in our surrounding streets should be a priority over and above vehicular traffic needs.

    Low traffic neighbourhoods are occuring all over the country, there are now lots of best practices examples about making town vibrant, active, economically viable and safe.

    Let’s have a culture where the sight of people on the street is more common than that of vehicles on the street. Our excellent local businesses could display their wares outdoors in good weather.

    Cafes and bars can be well populated in a socially distant way by taking up more street space. We could expand business capacity by having specific times when the High Street is vehicle free.

    By giving our local businesses more space to trade they can serve more customers safely and begin to recoup their losses.

    Delivery systems can be negotiated and arranged to suit those buildings without rear access.

    There could perhaps be monthly events such as the Frome all year round independent market when the whole town is abuzz and people travel for miles to purchase high quality handmade products.

    There are a range of modal filters available which can manage vehicular access at set times. These could be used so that bicycles and vehicles and scooters for the disabled Still have access.

    Signposting is key, as is changing the speed limits on surrounding streets so the bypass becomes the go to road for traffic, not our side streets or our high st.

    The car parks are abysmally signposted, online and on approach roads. This needs to change. Until I recently there wasn’t even a postcode for the Butt close carpark on their website.

    Places are for people. So we need to listen to people, and to local businesses to create solutions which work.

    My friend and I are currently doing a lot of that listening, we have surveyed most of the local High Street shops and spoken with people on the High Street.

    Only by listening can we create a solution which works for all.

    More surveys need to happen in a way which prioritises feedback before questions and are run by local people who understand local issues.

    Too many children are being hit by cars. Too many lives cut short by pollution. Time to change the culture and work together for Glastonbury to become a low traffic neighbourhood.

    There needs to be an encouragement that, like on the European Continent, people of all ages cycle everywhere as a matter of choice. The advantages are plainly apparent in the reduced accidents, pollution, and the feeling of wellbeing by the users of the traffic free areas.

    There also need to be many more secure places for cyclist to lock their bikes up to.

    In the present circumstances where social distancing is not only a health and safety requirement but a legal stipulation people must be given the opportunity to conform.

  28. I have already suggested the high st be pedestrianised properly ,, brick paved with planters ,, trees , encourage cafes to introduce outside areas , it would be amazing ,, it just felt and looked so much nicer when it was done ( temporarily???) for social distancing . i feel that Glastonbury needs to build on its tourist attractions , the high st being a major part of that , it needs private security so that would be up for discussion ,, as would access for emergency vehicles but that can be done without to many probs , licenced buskers !! after all ! thats what Glastonbury is all about and there some amazing musicians out there , lets encourage them !! busses could use town hall as a turning point and a stop could still be retained at top of town , so making no difference to public transport, to say that people would be put off because of not being able to park on the high st is a non starter as parking is very limited and there is parking available elsewhere ! some have said this would encourage **Out Of Town Shopping ** ,,, you cant buy any of the wonderful things on offer in our high st **Out Of Town** .

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