Preparations are underway to ensure town centre pedestrians can move about safely once college students return next month.
Students will start to return to Darlington Sixth Form College from September 7, with the number of pedestrians expected to increase between the college and the town centre.
To create a route that allows social distancing a number of measures have been planned in Duke Street and the areas surrounding the college widen footways for pedestrians.
Businesses in the Duke Street area were previously informed of the proposals and comments from owners have been taken on board where possible when planning the required measures. Further information on the final plans has been delivered to business owners to keep them informed.
The council is working with colleges and schools across the borough to promote a safe return to education and a local information campaign is planned to support national measures.
The measures that will be implemented in line with public health guidance from the government are:
- implement a one-way system on Duke Street to create a widened pedestrian area on the north side of the road, protected by barriers;
- car parking is retained on the south side of the road, including disabled parking provision
additional loading facilities are proposed on Duke Street and Barnard Street;
- additional new disabled parking spaces provided on Winston Street.;
- a 20mph zone will be implemented covering Duke Street and the residential roads to the north, up to Woodlands Road.
All of these measures will be monitored once they are in place and changes will be made if necessary.
Councillor Andy Keir, cabinet member for local services, said: “As the summer holidays come to an end we have been preparing for an increase in footfall in the Duke Street and Skinnergate areas, which have long been popular with students on the hunt for lunch.
“As ever, it is a balancing act between public health and supporting retailers and business owners. We have been in discussion with Duke Street business owners and we have taken their concerns on board when planning these measures.
“Once they’re up and running we’ll keep an eye on how everything is working and we’ll make changes if necessary.”
Physical social distancing measures are not proposed for any other school or college in the borough. However, the situation will be monitored as pupils return to school.