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
Important travel and parking information to residents, businesses, visitors and shoppers visiting High Wycombe during the construction works we will available via the links below.
View current and planned road closures as part of the High Wycombe Town Centre Masterplan.
View current and planned car parking changes in High Wycombe Town Centre during construction works.
Local residents and visitors to High Wycombe town centre will experience delays whilst road works are ongoing. We apologies in advance for any inconvenience these delays may cause. We have opted to arrange much of the works under traffic lights in lieu of a 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 with funding secured from the Local Growth Fund. The implementation of the High Wycombe Town Centre Masterplan will strengthen the role of the Town Centre as the focus for employment, shopping and leisure activities in the District. A key component 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 and is able to respond to economic change and the shopping and leisure aspirations of visitors.
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 and Gas Works Link (now named Suffield Hill). Planning permission for these roads was obtained in late 2013 from Buckinghamshire County Council.
Westbourne Street was completed in December 2015 and the existing highway on Desborough Road, Lily’s Walk, Suffield Road and Queen Alexandra Road already exist within the highway boundary and as such changes do not require planning permission. But these changes have been subject to public consultation and regular stakeholder engagement.
Regarding the new development opposite Eden Shopping Centre and Bucks New University, on 2nd December 2016, Wycombe District Council granted planning permission (ref 15/08002FULEA) for the redevelopment of the former Gas Works site, High Wycombe for a mixed use development comprising 239 residential dwellings and approximately 1,400 sqm of commercial floorspace. The developer Inland Homes plc will deliver the Suffield Hill link road as part of their agreed Section 106 and Section 73A Community Infrastructure agreements. The link will then be become adopted highway by Buckinghamshire County Council through a Section 38 & Section 278 agreement
The alternative route has been designed using current guidance from the Department for Transport on proven techniques for urban design which create naturally low speeds (without needing Police enforcement). This approach also helps smooth traffic flow at a lower speed, reducing stop-start delays and pollution effects, and improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists, whilst paving the way for new development and improvements across the town. The scheme has been the subject of Road Safety Audit by a team independent of the designers, to identify any road safety concerns – for motor vehicle users, pedestrians and cyclists. All of the issues they 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, to identify any problems that need to be addressed.
The masterplan will take pressure off the Abbey Way Flyover, after recent maintenance extended its life by between 15 and 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 we were making improvements to Westbourne Street we put in new measures that will give us the option to bring the river back to the surface to flow alongside the A40 and 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, 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. Key Features of the new Alternative route include:
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 also aid reducing the speed of traffic within the lanes and provide a highlighted area for the attention of drivers where pedestrians are likely to cross. Formal crossings will be retained 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
In order to free the alternative route from stop-start traffic as much as possible, we have designed non-signalised junctions along the route. This will help achieve a slow but steady flow of traffic through the town.
New energy efficient LED Lighting columns, some incorporating street names, will be used throughout the alternative route providing improved lighting conditions with reduced energy costs and maintenance requirements.
We made sure that our street design caters for all users making sure that kerbs, surface levels, trim details at the back of the footway, tactile paving and colour contrasting materials are used to help less able users navigate their way through the space.
Aims of the Route
Why do we need the alternative route? Creating the alternative route is vital to reducing and rerouting traffic in the town centre to help create better spaces for people to enjoy. This will make High Wycombe more attractive and it paves the way for regeneration and could 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 alternative route is designed to achieve two main things: reroute traffic from the A40 away from the town centre and the flyover and is designed to encourage steady movement of traffic along its route. The route has no traffic lights, no signs and lines and is designed to facilitate the movement of pedestrians and cyclists as well as road users.
When will it be constructed? For how long?
Phase one of the route was constructed in 2015 at Westbourne Street junction with the A40. Phase two is currently underway and it is anticipated will be on site until August 2017. Suffield Hill (Phase 3) and Phase 4 will be delivered by Inland Home plc and Buckinghamshire County Council respectively.
Phase 4 is planned to start earlier in autumn 2017 completing in spring 2018, with Phase 3 commencing in autumn 2018 until spring 2019 subject to written agreements in place.
Remaining scheme timelines for the rest of the Masterplan will also be announced in due course.
Will the roads be closed? Will traffic be diverted?
Each scheme will have different circumstances and impacts. But all schemes will be constructed using various sets of temporary traffic lights and temporary road closures as the work is completed. We will be telling people in advance of the next stages of the work as it progresses along the route. Roads will only be closed for a short period of time during the works and there will be only occasional night time closures where this is necessary to achieve the works. There will be various diversions in place when necessary and we will be telling people in advance of the diversions as the work 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 and is designed to enable vehicles of all sizes to run in the 3m running lanes at steady speeds. The design features pedestrian elements too such as central medians and informal crossing points that help people cross the road. 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 and we want to ensure that this traffic is travelling at a slow and steady speed, without stop-start queuing and that the alternative route is encourages people to walk along it as well as vehicles on the road.
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 to 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 once the scheme is completed. Traffic Regulation orders will feature along the whole length of the route so only parking in the bays provided will be permitted. The scheme will also close West End Road permanently to limit vehicle movements in that area. Therefore access to the Wycombe District car park adjacent 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 the local bus companies and seeking to divert existing routes for a limited time when necessary for the individual projects as they happen.
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. The disruption will be worst when there are lane closures and full road closures which we are seeking to minimise keep to night time works wherever possible. We will be seeking to inform people about any temporary traffic lights or diversions in the area via the press and local bulletins throughout the works to help people plan and minimise the disruption.
Night time working will be kept to a minimum but at times there will be a need to employ two shifts of contractors, therefore 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 Manager will liaise with the local community throughout the works
- BCC will also seek to keep people informed through website updates and regular bulletins. If you would like to receive our bulletins (see individual projects)
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 email@example.com or call us on 01296 382416. If you would like to receive our bulletins (see individual projects)
How are the works being managed and monitored?
The works are being delivered by Buckinghamshire County Council as the Highways Authority. 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 Alternative Route scheme 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: 14 November 2017