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Colchester Town Centre Improvements

Elements of the experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO's) for Colchester Town Centre that were introduced in October 2013 have been made permanent with effect from 17 September 2014. 

The main benefits for the town centre are:

  • improved public transport journey reliability in the town centre, in advance of the Park and Ride service becoming operational in March 2015
  • an improvement in air quality
  • improvements to the pedestrian environment in the High Street by reducing traffic volume
  • to encourage the use of more sustainable means of transport for short journeys, that will have benefits for both public health and the environment.

The permanent traffic restrictions consist of:

Permanent 24 hour Bus Lanes:  (more info on bus lane enforcement here)



High Street SOUTH SIDE: From junction with Queen Street, west for a distance of 50 metres
North Hill EAST SIDE: Southbound direction from junction with St Peter's Street to junction with High Street
Middleborough NORTH SIDE: Southern Eastbound Lane from North Hill, west for a distance of 47 metres


Exemption for buses, hackney carriages, pedal cycles, motorcycles and authorised vehicles, where 'authorised vehicles' are licensed private hire vehicles.


Permanent vehicle prohibition:



Cowdray Crescent Entire length, from western junction with High Street to eastern junction with High Street


Essex County Council (ECC) has reviewed the comments and objections received during the experimental period and has responded to questions raised.  For answers to the most frequently asked questions, please see below:

Frequently Asked Questions

What difference will this scheme make to my journey into Colchester town centre? 
Throughout the period of the experimental Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs), a journey time study found that some journey times increased, especially for short journeys within the town centre. However, part of the reason for the introduction of the measures was to encourage more sustainable modes of transport within the town centre and discourage private car use for short journeys.
Will this scheme increase congestion on the surrounding town centre road network?
The intention of the scheme was to move traffic from the local roads to the strategic routes in order to encourage more use of sustainable modes of transport within the town centre. ECC’s Traffic Control Centre monitor the Colchester traffic network to ensure that it operates effectively and have not noted any increase in congestion.
If there is an increase in the volume of traffic on the surrounding town centre road network, will this increase levels of pollution?
Available air quality data for the period before and during the period of the experimental TRO's indicated that there were insignificant increases in pollution levels on the surrounding town centre road network.
How would the increase in journey times affect drivers who require access to the Blue Badge parking on the High Street?
Increased journey times may have an impact on some Blue Badge holders, for example if they need to access the Blue Badge parking on the High Street and are approaching the town centre from a particular direction. Blue Badge parking is available and will be retained on the High Street as part of making the experimental TRO's permanent.  
Will the Blue Badge parking on the High Street be retained?
The existing Blue Badge parking on the High Street will be retained as part of making the experimental TRO’s permanent. Increased Blue Badge parking provision in car parks around the town centre, introduced to complement the March 2013 TRO’s, is being retained.
What impact has the introduction of the measures had on businesses in the town centre?
Both Colchester Retail Businesses Association (CoRBA) and representatives of the larger retailers were invited to attend the Colchester Town Centre Monitoring Group in order to monitor the impact of the experimental TRO's on town centre business. At the end of the experimental period no quantitative data was available to demonstrate any adverse effect on business as a direct consequence of the experimental TRO's.
Why are the bus lanes in operation 24 hours a day?
As stated earlier, part of the reason for introducing the measures was to encourage more sustainable modes of transport within the town centre and discourage private car use. Not having a 24-hour restriction in place would undermine this aim. Having streets which are one way at some times but allow two way traffic at other times could be considered confusing for motorists.
Is there an increased risk of U-turns at the Lewis Gardens/High Street junction?
ECC is aware that there may be an increased incidence of U-turns at Lewis Gardens/High Street junction. It should be noted that this is not an illegal manoeuvre; drivers undertaking such manoeuvres should exercise due caution.
How does the Council plan to address the issue regarding illegal loading on Head Street?
The congestion caused by the illegal loading on Head Street during the morning peak period was cited as a concern. ECC have worked with the North Essex Parking Partnership to resolve this issue, ensuring that appropriate enforcement is in place.
Will Cowdray Crescent remain closed to traffic?
ECC received objections regarding the closure of Cowdray Crescent. However, the risk of drivers using Cowdray Crescent to access Queen Street across a pedestrian phase is not acceptable, therefore Cowdray Crescent will remain closed to traffic.
Will this scheme create parking difficulties in the Dutch Quarter, rat running on Nunn’s Road and speeding along North Hill?
These objections have been noted; however, they do not appear to have been an issue during the course of the experimental TRO's.