Council approves new 20mph speed limit plan

20mph sign

A new policy on the introduction of 20mph speed limits has been agreed.

Westmorland and Furness Council’s Highways and Transport Strategic Board has today (12 September) approved the process and criteria for communities to request 20mph speed limits and zones in residential areas, towns and villages.

A report to the Strategic Board said the new policy is intended to streamline the process to make it easier to implement new 20mph limits.

The introduction of 20mph speed limits and zones in the correct places in Westmorland and Furness has been identified as one of the new council’s key priorities, to promote safer roads, reduce vehicle pollution and noise and enhance the environment for walking and cycling.

The policy also states that, where appropriate, all new residential and urban roads will be designed and implemented as 20mph roads.

Requests for 20mph limits will be considered by the council’s new Locality Boards, which cover the areas of Furness, South Lakeland and Eden. Funding new schemes would come from Locality Board budgets for highway and transport improvements for their areas.

Among the criteria used to assess requests for 20mph schemes will be a requirement that the proposal is supported by the local community and any introduction of 20mph will be subject to consultation and engagement with local communities and stakeholders including town and parish councils. Each scheme will require a Traffic Regulation Order to introduce the reduced speed limit.

Proposals will be prioritised based on considerations including evidence of accidents or incidents, whether the road is on a school walking route and the number of pedestrians walking along or crossing the road.

Any additional measures beyond new 20mph limits – such as traffic calming - if needed or requested by the local community, would need to be funded separately.

The Department for Transport encourages local authorities to consider the introduction of more 20mph speed limits and zones to ensure greater safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

Research by the UK Transport Research Laboratory has shown that that you are seven times more likely to survive if you are hit by a car driving at 20mph, than if you are hit at 30mph.

Councillor Peter Thornton, Westmorland and Furness Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Assets, said: “We get lots of requests from residents, parish councils and schools asking whether we can help improve safety on their local roads, and often speed is the single biggest problem.

“Looking at ways to implement more 20mph limits was one of our key priorities and the policy we’ve approved today is the result of us listening to and acting on those community concerns.

“Introducing 20mph limits and 20mph zones in the correct places can not only make our roads safer but it can also help reduce vehicle pollution and noise, enhance the environment for walking and cycling and support communities having a sense of place.

“The new policy will make the process of requesting and implementing new 20mph limits much easier and quicker than previously.

“Crucially, the decisions on where to implement new 20mph limits will be taken by Locality Boards, made up of local representatives from those communities, and proposals will be required to have community support.

“We have made this one of our key projects in the first year of the new council and have allocated £300,000 towards implementing new schemes.

“This new policy also demonstrates how we are already delivering on our Council Plan ambitions to provide leadership in the drive to become carbon net zero, including supporting and promoting environmentally friendly forms of travel and making it easier and safer to walk and cycle in our area, and our commitment to work closely with our residents and businesses, parish and town councils and local community groups.’’

The 20mph policy is one of 14 key projects identified as part of a £5 million priority investment programme by Westmorland and Furness Council in the coming year.

Other projects include funding for projects around biodiversity and nature, sustainable transport, social care, children, culture and education.

More information about the agreed criteria and process on new 20mph limit requests can be found in the report to today’s meeting at: Agenda for Highways and Transport Strategic Board on Tuesday, 12th September, 2023, 1.00 pm.