High Wycombe town centre masterplan
1. High Wycombe scheme overview
See individual project pages for dates
Implementation of the High Wycombe Town Centre Masterplan, see individual project pages for more detail
Wycombe District Council, Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership,
Local Growth Fund and Buckinghamshire County Council
01296 382 416
Travel and parking information
Local residents and visitors to High Wycombe town centre will experience delays whilst road works are ongoing. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience these delays may cause. We have opted to arrange much of the works under traffic lights instead of full road closures to avoid greater disruption on the road network. We seek your cooperation and patience whilst we complete the current and future phases of works.
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About the project
The High Wycombe Town Centre Masterplan is a partnership project between Buckinghamshire County Council, Wycombe District Council, and Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership. Funding has been secured from the Local Growth Fund.
The plan will strengthen the role of the town centre as the focus for employment, shopping and leisure activities in the district. A key part of the masterplan is an alternative route around the town centre, linking A404 Marlow Hill to the A40 West Wycombe Road. This will pave the way for a more attractive town centre that better connects the old and new parts.
Specifically, the Masterplan sets out to:
- Transform public spaces - creating new public spaces and improving existing public spaces to make the town a more attractive place for shopping and leisure.
- Strengthen the economy - by creating new opportunities for businesses, jobs, shops and leisure.
- Bring the town together - by making changes to the road network to make the town more 'pedestrian-friendly'. This includes changing the traffic flow around the town centre and downgrading the use of Abbey Way flyover, as well as improving other streets and pedestrian spaces in the town centre.
Two sections of the route required planning permission:
- Westbourne Street Link
- Gas Works Link (now named Suffield Hill)
This was obtained in late 2013 from Buckinghamshire County Council.
Westbourne Street was completed in December 2015. The existing highway on Desborough Road, Lily’s Walk, Suffield Road and Queen Alexandra Road already exist within the highway boundary. As such changes do not need planning permission. These changes have been subject to public consultation and regular stakeholder engagement.
On the 2 December 2016, Wycombe District Council granted planning permission (ref 15/08002FULEA) for the redevelopment of the former Gas Works site. The permission was for a mixed use development comprising:
- 239 residential dwellings
- approximately 1,400 sqm of commercial floorspace
The developer Inland Homes plc will deliver the Suffield Hill link road. This is part of their agreed Section 106 and Section 73A Community Infrastructure agreements.
The link will become an adopted highway by Buckinghamshire County Council through a Section 38 & Section 278 agreement
The design of the alternative route uses current guidance from the Department for Transport. By using proven urban design techniques this will:
- create naturally low speeds without needing police enforcement
- smooth traffic flow at a lower speed
- reduce stop-start delays and pollution effects
- improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists
The scheme has been the subject of Road Safety Audit by a team independent of the designers. They will identify any road safety concerns, for motor vehicle users, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Issues the designers have identified have been addressed in design proposals. Further Road Safety Audits will take place at the end of construction, and once it’s been operating for a while.
The masterplan will take pressure off the Abbey Way Flyover, after recent maintenance extended its life by between 15 to 20 years.
The map below gives a comprehensive overview of roadworks and any traffic issues in the High Wycombe area. Please note that it includes any works taking place on the road network, not just those being undertaken by Buckinghamshire County Council.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Masterplan aiming to achieve?
- Create better public spaces for people within the town centre and make High Wycombe a more attractive place to live, work and visit
- Improve transport options across the town through the alternative route and seek to reconnect the old and new parts of the town
- Open up new opportunities for High Wycombe for business, investment and regeneration through improved public spaces.
Are there plans to remake the river?
The River Wye currently disappears underground, buried underneath High Wycombe roads and pavements.
While improvements where made to Westbourne Street we put in new measures that will give us the option to bring the river back to the surface. This will then flow alongside the A40. We will be consulting on this in due course.
Future of the Abbey Way flyover?
The current A40 route over the Abbey Way flyover was put into place in the 1960s before the High Wycombe section of the M40 was opened. It cuts through the heart of the town. The Masterplan does not, at present, suggest closing the flyover. But we are keeping the long term future under review. The alternative route enables traffic to move away from the town centre. It will enable the junctions at either end of the flyover to be designed to accommodate people and improve links between the old town and the new. It will also make the adjacent sites more attractive for shopping, leisure and business investment.
What is the alternative route?
The alternative route is a new road link through High Wycombe to the south of the town centre.
It runs from Westbourne Street along Desborough Road to Lily’s Walk. It then runs along the proposed new Gas Works link road and along Suffield Road to the Abbey Way gyratory roundabouts. It will become a second main route for traffic of all types to travel across the town.
Traffic lanes are narrow
Carriageway will be 3m from kerb to kerb. All lorries, buses and emergency vehicles are able to drive down these lanes.
Central strips (medians)
These are used for several reasons. They help to keep traffic lanes narrow to slow drivers down and give pedestrians the opportunity to cross the road one lane at a time.
These help reduce the speed of traffic within the lanes. They provide a highlighted area for the attention of drivers where pedestrians are likely to cross. Formal crossings will remain at key locations near schools.
Emergency vehicles are able to use the footways and central strips to pass vehicles or queuing traffic. These strips also help general traffic get round a broken down vehicle and keep traffic flowing smoothly. All of the emergency services have been consulted throughout the delivery of the scheme.
Less traffic signals
We have designed non-signalised junctions to help free the alternative route from stop-start traffic. This will help achieve a slow but steady flow of traffic through the town.
New energy efficient LED lighting columns will be in use throughout the alternative route. Some of these will incorporate street names. These will provide improved lighting conditions with reduced energy costs and maintenance requirements.
We made sure that our street design caters for all users. We are doing this by including:
- surface levels
- trim details at the back of the footway
- tactile paving
- colour contrasting materials
This will help less able users navigate their way through the space.
Why do we need the alternative route?
Creating the alternative route is vital to reducing and rerouting traffic in the town centre. This helps create better spaces for people to enjoy. These spaces will make High Wycombe more attractive and pave the way for regeneration. They could also help re-open the River Wye through into the heart of the town.
The purpose of the scheme is to create a new east west traffic route through High Wycombe that avoids the flyover.
Why is it necessary?
The new route is part of a wider scheme to regenerate High Wycombe Town Centre, which currently features a lot of traffic.
The design of the alternative route will reroute traffic from the A40 away from the town centre and the flyover. The route will have, no traffic lights, no signs, and no lines. It's designed to help the movement of pedestrians and cyclists as well as road users.
When will it be constructed? For how long?
- Phase 1 of the route was completed in 2015 at Westbourne Street junction with the A40.
- Phase 2 along Desborough Road was completed in August 2017.
- Phase 4 is currently under construction since October 2017 and is due to be complete in July 2018.
- Phase 3 will commence in August 2018 until spring 2019 subject to written agreements in place with the developers.
Timelines for the rest of the Masterplan phases will be announced in due course.
Will the roads be closed? Will traffic be diverted?
Each scheme will have different circumstances and impacts. All schemes will use temporary traffic lights and temporary road closures during construction. Roads will only be closed for a short period of time during the works. There will be only occasional night time closures.. There will be various diversions in place when necessary.
We will be telling people in advance of the next stages of the work as it progresses along the route. Please see the Road Closures section for more information
What will the finished route look like?
The Alternative Route schemes will follow the same design approach used at Westbourne Street. This design is based on the guidance from Manual for Streets. It's designed to enable vehicles of all sizes to run in the 3m running lanes at steady speeds.
The design features pedestrian elements such as, central medians and informal crossing points. The scheme will also enhance the look of the highway with new pavements and lighting columns, trees, high quality granite sett kerbs, swales and planters.
Why will this be better in the long term?
In the longer term there will be more traffic on this route than before. We want to ensure that this traffic is travelling at a slow and steady speed, without stop-start queuing.
Will it affect parking in the area?
Yes it will. Several on street parking bays will need to be removed along the north side of Suffield Road. This will allow for the construction of the new development’s southern access and new link road. We have sought to maximise the number of spaces retained along Queen Alexandra Road east of the pedestrian crossing on both sides of the road.
To aid traffic flows on the alternative route on street parking will not be permitted unless in marked bays once the whole scheme is completed. Traffic Regulation Orders will feature along the whole length of the Alternative Route. Only parking in the bays provided will be permitted.
The scheme also needed to permanently close access to West End Road from Desborough Road. This is to limit vehicle movements in that area. Access to the Wycombe District car park next to the Kings Centre church will be diverted via West End Street.
What will be the impact on buses getting to the bus station?
Buses will continue to run to and from the bus station. During the works we will we need to temporarily suspend the bus stops as we carry out construction works.
We are working in cooperation with Transport for Buckinghamshire and the local bus companies. Some routes will be diverted for a limited time for the individual projects.
Will there be much disruption?
Local shop owners, businesses and residents will of course hear and see the works take place and this will bring noise and disruption to the area.
We are seeking to minimise disruption of lane and road closures. keep to night time works wherever possible. We will inform people about any temporary traffic lights or diversions in the area via the press and local bulletins throughout the works.
Night time working will be kept to a minimum. At times there will be a need to use two shifts of contractors. This means work could be going on 24/7 at various points in the work programme.
How will people be kept informed?
People will be kept informed by Buckinghamshire County Council its stakeholders where necessary throughout the works:
- Local newsletters posted to key properties during the works as necessary
- Press releases in the local newspapers including the Bucks Free Press
- Regular meetings with key stakeholders
- Radio bulletins through Wycombe Sound
- The site Project Management teams will liaise with the local community throughout the works utilising a Public Liaison Officer where required.
- BCC will also seek to keep people informed through website updates and regular bulletins.
Where can I have my say on the scheme?
If there are issues around the scheme or the works during construction that you wish to discuss please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01296 38241.
How are the works being managed and monitored?
The works are being delivered by Buckinghamshire County Council as the Highways Authority and monitored by the Streetworks team. Regular site visits with a focus on vehicle and pedestrian safety will ensure that the traffic management is properly in place and that works are being conducted in a safe manner.
Who is paying for the works?
The High Wycombe Town Centre Masterplan is a partnership project between Buckinghamshire County Council, Wycombe District Council and Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership with funding secured from the Local Growth Fund.
Last updated: 28 September 2020