COUNCIL leaders have bowed to pressure from residents and delayed plans to close off sections of two clifftop roads in Bournemouth to through motorised traffic.

Measures were due to start on Monday to block off stretches of Boscombe and Southbourne Overcliff Drive.

The scheme sought to provide a safer space for cycling and walking, as well as relieve pressure on the promenade.

Bournemouth Echo: The section of Boscombe Overcliff Drive that was due to be blocked off to through motorised trafficThe section of Boscombe Overcliff Drive that was due to be blocked off to through motorised traffic

Following a backlash from residents, opposition councillors and the hospitality industry, the changes have been put on hold to allow more time for “dialogue with local residents”.

The local authority has also delayed plans to close off Cleveland Road between Windham Road and St Clement’s Road for motor vehicles due to growing concerns before the scheme had even been publicised.

Councillor Andy Hadley, BCP Council’s portfolio holder for transport, said: “As part of the response to COVID-19, it’s clear to see that the way we travel is changing, and as we head towards the new normal – going back to school and returning to workplaces – we want to support people to choose to travel more sustainably for shorter journeys.

"This also supports our vision is to create vibrant communities with outstanding quality of life where everyone plays an active part, and the new National Walking and Cycling Strategy.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Andy Hadley, BCP Council's transport portfolio holderCllr Andy Hadley, BCP Council's transport portfolio holder

“The Overcliff scheme has generated huge interest and concern in the local area.

"Whilst these travel measures are designed to be temporary and to allow time for people to give their feedback based on their experiences, it is clear we need to pause our plan for the Boscombe/Southbourne experimental traffic scheme and to seek further views from local people.

“We are keen to work with the local community on the extent and location of low-cost experimental measures in this area, and we need the views of those living, working in, and passing through the shopping areas of Southbourne Grove, Beechwood and Wentworth Avenue, Parkwood, Seabourne and Southbourne Road in order to shape a future scheme.

We must recognise that doing nothing will not solve congestion, or deliver on our climate emergency response, and that some of the respondents were keen to see the scheme implemented.

"We are still keen to implement a scheme in this area.”

A council statement said the scheme did not plan to close the area to cars or prevent clifftop parking, but to remove the through traffic.

Bournemouth Echo: The section of Southbourne Overcliff Drive that was due to be blocked off to through motorised trafficThe section of Southbourne Overcliff Drive that was due to be blocked off to through motorised traffic

There have been a number of collisions involving injuries to people on bikes at junctions along the overcliff in recent years and making roads safer as well as encouraging sustainable journeys remain a priority for the council, the statement added.

The measures were brought forward using funds from the government’s emergency active travel fund.

Councillor Hadley said: “The tight timescales and limited upfront consultation was mandated directly by government requirements to implement these schemes urgently to combat gridlock, and to consult over the following months. There are other schemes being implemented across the conurbation to support commuting, school and leisure journeys, and we are keen to ensure that the value of these is better understood.

“We will therefore also pause and consult with local people before implementing the planned measure on the railway bridge on Cleveland Road. This will mean that is not in place for the return to school this September.

“We intend to pursue the remaining schemes already in progress as part of phase one, and we had already planned that if we are successful with funding for phase two work, this would be done in a different way with early consultation given available time.”

Bournemouth Echo: The railway bridge in Cleveland RoadThe railway bridge in Cleveland Road

It is understood BCP Council was due to launch details on measures to block off Cleveland Road railway bridge to motorised traffic on Friday, August 21, ahead of implementation in early September, however, this has been shelved for the time being.

As reported, the council already U-turned on plans to block off East Overcliff Drive to through motorised traffic following objections.