Essex Highways, Safer, Greener, Healthier

St Botolph's Circus, Colchester

Introduction

Aerial Image showing the area around St Botolphs

St Botolph’s Circus is situated to the south of Colchester Town Centre on the A134 Southway at its junction with St Botolph’s Street, Mersea Road and Magdalen Street.

Colchester Town railway station is also situated just off the roundabout.

The junction is partially signalised and has a complex arrangement, particularly on the north side, where vehicles have to cross the roundabout approach lanes on St Botolph’s Street to gain access to the Britannia Way car park.

The Magistrates' Court car park and the railway accessible parking bays are directly off the roundabout which leads to further safety issues for both drivers and pedestrians.

Essex County Council is committed to improving the area and funding is available to provide improvements to vehicular traffic, buses, pedestrians and cyclists along the A134 Southway corridor and St Botolph’s Circus. 

What are the current problems?

The roundabout is often congested with traffic and this will continue to worsen if improvements are not made.

The junction currently experiences significant congestion in the peak hours. During this time, the average vehicle speeds are below 50% of off-peak times where traffic is free flowing.

A collision analysis found that most of the collisions in the study area were concentrated around St Botolph’s Circus roundabout. Safety for vulnerable road users within this area is poor. 11 of the 18 reported injury collisions involved pedestrians, pedal cyclists or powered two-wheeler users (such as motorcycles).

In addition, pedestrians and cyclists currently navigate the roundabout using underpasses that are unappealing and the open space below the surface attracts antisocial behaviour.

Image showing the section in the pedestrain area in the middle of St Botolphs Circus Roundabout

What are the proposed improvements?

The current plans are:

  • Infill the roundabout and subways, ensuring the public artwork is preserved and moved to a suitable location
  • Alter the shape and size of the island in the middle of the roundabout to increase carriageway capacity
  • Provide an additional lane on the eastern and southern sides to maintain three lanes around the roundabout
  • Install additional signals and a toucan crossing on the A134 Magdalen Street
  • Improve the junction at the entrance to Colchester Magistrates’ Court and Colchester Town railway station
  • Improve the surrounding streetscape by removing unnecessary street furniture and signage, upgrading footway surfacing, adding tree planting and feature lighting, and creating a series of pocket parks

These proposed improvements to St Botolph’s Circus are critical to improving the infrastructure of Colchester.

They will aim to improve congestion, reduce collisions as well as improving safety for residents and improving the aesthetics of the area and complement the heritage of the town.

Image of the remains of St Botolphs Priory which is a short walk from the St Botolphs Circus Roundabout

Image courtesy of Colchester Borough Council 

Illustrated map showing the proposed improvements of the scheme

Aims of the Proposed Plans for St Botolph’s Circus

  1. Provide the transport improvements needed to support and facilitate housing and employment growth 
  2. Provide an overall improvement to traffic flow and capacity whilst protecting the reliability of the public transport network 
  3. Remove the potential opportunities for sheltering to reduce the likelihood of anti-social behaviour
  4. Support the Core Principles and Specific Measures set out in the Colchester Borough Council Air Quality Action Plan, where applicable
  5. Improve the safety of all users

How can I have my say?

The engagement period for the "St Botolphs Cicus Roundabout" proposals has now closed, all comments are currently being reviewed and will be considered during further design stages of the scheme.

A public information event was held on 2 July 2019 for people to find out more about the scheme and discuss the proposals with the team.

An online feedback survey was also made available from 21 June 2019 until its closure on the 2 August 2019.

Questions and Answers

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The changes will look to make the roundabout simpler to use and improve the flow of traffic. Currently, the layout is complex which can be confusing to use, particularly to gain access to Britannia car park. The Magistrates’ Court car park and the blue badge parking bays at the station are also accessed off the roundabout which can cause problems for traffic, cyclists and pedestrians.

The traffic data analysis undertaken shows that the junction currently experiences significant congestion in the peak hours, with average vehicle speeds reduced to below 50% of the free flow speeds. In addition, a collision analysis found that the majority of the collisions in the study area were concentrated around St Botolph’s Circus roundabout. Vulnerable road user safety within this area is poor, with 11 of the 18 reported injury collisions involving pedestrians, cyclists or powered two-wheeler users.

The proposals include revising the junctions, particularly the entrance to Colchester Magistrates’ Court and station, to make it easier for all modes of transport to navigate the area. In addition, the scheme will aim to reduce congestion, reduce collisions and improve safety for both traffic users and pedestrians and improve the look and feel of the area, given that it is a key route into town.

The improvements to St Botolph’s Circus form a key part of investment in infrastructure in Colchester and are integral to support housing and employment growth.

Funding was secured from the Garrison redevelopment to improve this junction, however the window for using this funding is time limited.

There is £3.5 million allocated for St Botolph’s Circus.

Funding, earmarked for improving this junction, has already been secured which will allow us to construct these proposals and therefore we see no reason at present to suggest otherwise.

We recognise that St Botolph’s Circus is located within one of Colchester’s air quality management areas and that air quality is a concern. The proposed changes are designed to help traffic move more freely in the area and we are undertaking detailed assessments to determine the impact that these may have on the surrounding air quality.

The proposal is the best solution that can be provided at this time with the funding that is available. The changes will provide significant benefits for network users across Colchester and will allow for future improvements in conjunction with other upgrades to Colchester town centre if and when further funding is available. The chosen proposal should significantly reduce congestion compared with the current roundabout.

The estimated construction start is Spring/Summer 2020 and construction should be completed by Summer/Autumn 2021, however this is subject to change. We will make sure the latest information is available on the website when we know more.

People who walk or cycle will travel around the roundabout using designated crossing points at surface level. These are deemed to be both safer and quicker ways to move around the roundabout.

Improving traffic flow at St Botolph’s Circus will help to protect the overall reliability of the public transport network and reduce congestion. We are still at an early stage of design but there could be some changes to the current bus stops if the works interfere with the locations of the original bus stops. If this is the case, we will make sure we reposition them to a suitable location. We will make sure any significant changes in the area are advertised on this webpage before they occur to keep you informed.

As the project is at an early stage we do not yet have a traffic management plan, however during construction there will likely be an impact on the roundabout and the flow of traffic. We will try to minimise the impact on traffic as much as possible, but as with any scheme such as this, there is likely to be temporary disruptions. These improvements should improve congestion significantly after the works are complete.

As the project is at an early stage we have not yet got a traffic management plan in place and do not have the full information to determine whether the roundabout or local roads will be closed during construction. If any do need to be closed, we will ensure that appropriate diversions are put in place and suitably advertised to ensure that network users can still reach their destination.

This webpage will be updated with information as and when it becomes available, and you can check www.essex.gov.uk/traffic for the official permitted works and diversions and live traffic delays.

Essex County Council and Colchester Borough Council remain committed to improving the area. The improvements to St Botolph’s Circus form a key part of investment in infrastructure in Colchester and are integral to support housing and employment growth.

It is important to note that Essex County Council and Colchester Borough Council both have further aspirations for the development of St Botolph’s Circus in conjunction with other upgrades to the town centre, however these are contingent on securing further funding.

We are currently working on a plan to identify a clear vision for Colchester which will include sustainable transport.

We need a strategic approach to help solve the issues that are currently in existence on Colchester’s transport network. Looking to the future, we need to progress in a way that ensures that what we have in Colchester can be used and enjoyed for generations to come.

Any updates to the scheme will be posted directly onto the webpage: www.essex.gov.uk/stbotolphs.