A petition calling for a stretch of the high street in Rickmansworth to be pedestrianised has been presented to councillors in Three Rivers.

Traffic is currently already banned from a shorter section of High Street, as part of temporary traffic measures designed to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

But around 100 people have now signed an e-petition calling for a longer section of the street – from Church Street/Northway to Parsonage Road – to be pedestrianised permanently.

And on Tuesday (November 17) the petition was presented to a meeting of Three Rivers District Council’s infrastructure, housing and economic development committee on Tuesday (November 17).

Presenting the petition, Steve Harlow – who runs Wishful Drinking – said he believed pedestrianisation would breathe life back in to the high street.

And he highlighted a written version of the same petition had more than 300 signatures.

“We believe this  would create a traffic free, people friendly, “piazza” style zone where shoppers can move more freely and linger  – and not have any fear of pollution or traffic accidents or anything else,” he said.

“The high street, I think,  needs transformation after the Covid crisis – if not before.

“And if it is to remain the heart of the community we need to do something now to address some of the issues we can see happening in the high street.

“We believe – and all the people who signed the petitions believe – that pedestrianisation will promote vitality and variety and bring a new lease of life to the whole area.”

Mr Harlow told councillors it was crucial  that the longer stretch of High Street be pedestrianised – rather than just the section currently restricted due to Covid.

He suggested that deliveries would not be an issue, even for businesses – like his own – that had no rear access.

And he told councillors it was time to be “strong and bold” and take a step to revitalise the high street through pedestrianising it from Parsonage Road to Church Street.

Accepting the petition the council’s lead member for transport and economic development Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst said that it was the county council – and not Three Rivers District Council – that was the highways authority.

Cllr Giles-Medhurst – who is also a member of the county council – said the partial pedestrianisation currently in place is subject to a temporary traffic order that could remain in place for up to 18 months and would be reviewed.

He said that the existing Covid-19 traffic measures had been considered feasible because there was another route around the high street, in terms of Northway.

But he said there had then been concerns about whether it could be extended  further – pointing to additional work, such as there-routing of bus services.

“I am not saying it’s not possible,” he said. “Ultimately it will not be for Three Rivers District Council to make that decision on its own. It will obviously be up to the county council to work with us over that.”
Cllr Giles-Medhurst he said that the next stage would be to make sure that the e-petition – and the  written petition – were passed to the county council.