THIS is how the road which divides Dorchester Market could look.

The design was revealed as councillors approved blocking off one of the market entrances into Fairfield Road from Weymouth Avenue and creating a new pedestrian access opposite the Copper Street junction.

The area planning committee was told that, at the moment, Dorset Council, does not have the money for the trees and other landscaping and is asking Dorchester Town Council to help fund the second phase.

Dorset Echo:

The statement comes just days after the unitary authority revealed that it has, for the third year in a row, been unable to spend all of its capital budget and has millions of pounds for earmarked projects with no hope of the money being spent before the end of this financial year.

Councillors on the area planning committee welcomed the market road closure plan, which should be completed early next year, after several injury accidents in recent years, two of them serious.

The road, which links Weymouth Avenue to Maumbury Road, either side of the market, has never had a pavement and with cars parking either side pedestrians have for many years been forced into the path of oncoming traffic.

In addition to blocking off the Weymouth Avenue junction a pavement will be added along one side of the road with the loss of around 20 car parking spaces – a small proportion of the 600-plus which are available in the area.

Eventually it is hoped to plant trees and add other landscaping and seating to give the appearance of an urban Square.

Those on feet are also forced to walk through the upper car park, which has no pavements, to get out of the parking area to reach Brewery Square and the South Station, or to make journeys in other directions.

The proposals will see a short section of railings removed, with the loss of one parking space, to allow pedestrians to get out of the car park into Weymouth Avenue and from there to either cross into Copper Street or to walk into the town centre or Brewery Square.

Although the new pedestrian access has been welcomed several people have criticised its location, claiming it should come out onto Weymouth Avenue directly in front of the pedestrian crossing which is to the north of Copper Street. They claim its location, closer to the road junction and adjacent to an existing ticket machine, will encourage people to ignore the crossing and walk across the road junction.

Dorset Echo:

Highways officers say if there is evidence of that happening a barrier may need to be installed to shepherd people towards the crossing point.

The plans were approved unanimously without discussion with planning committee chairman Cllr Sherry Jespersen commenting at the end of the vote: “It a terrific scheme… and it will be even nicer when we see the landscaping.”

The proposals have also been welcomed by the town council, Dorchester Transport Action Group and the town’s Civic Society who said: “This scheme which will provide a safer and more enjoyable experience for locals and the multitude of tourists visiting the market. For new-comers the mix of traffic and pedestrians has been confusing… At the west end the speed of cars entering from the traffic lights to the north is unacceptable. Different colours and surfaces should be employed to highlight the priority of pedestrians, particularly of those, walking southward.”