Plan drawn up in response to concerns about road safety in Wye Valley villages
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
A plan setting out “a blueprint for change” for the villages in the Monmouthshire part of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) has been drawn up as part of an ambitious joint project.
The Wye Valley AONB Villages Plan for the Future sets out “a vision for change”, with a range of short-term and long-term projects outlined for the area.
The plan, a joint project which has involved Monmouthshire County Council, the Wye Valley AONB Unit, Tintern, St Arvans, Trellech United and Devauden community councils, has six key themes.
It is limited to the Welsh part of the Wye Valley AONB and the nine main Monmouthshire settlements of Catbrook, Devauden, Llandogo, Llanishen, Penallt, St Arvans, The Narth, Tintern and Trellech.
At the heart of the study is a focus on responding to community concerns about road safety.
The first part of the plan, to ensure safe and sustainable transport, proposes co-ordinated changes to the streets across the villages to reduce traffic speeds and make them more attractive and safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Improvements to the bus service, particularly during the holiday season, are recommended, alongside enhancing walking and cycling routes to reduce car dependency.
Mobility hubs could also be established at various locations, where people would be able to hire vehicles such as bicycles, e-bikes and electric vehicles instead of using the car.
The plan also recommends a road speed strategy is developed and that 20mph speed limits for all streets within the villages are implemented.
More short-term “quick-win” projects including introducing gateway signage to the villages could be implemented this year, according to the plan.
The second part of the plan, to conserve and enhance the landscape, includes working with other authorities to improve the health of the River Wye.
A ‘Green Village’ initiative is also proposed, to deliver projects such as community food growing and habitat creation.
The plan says a pilot could be delivered to test new farming practices that deliver wider benefits to nature such as less pesticide use and habitat management.
Plans to enable sustainable tourism also forms part of the project, with proposals to celebrate the border location as a place where visitors can move between countries with just a few steps.
Improved signage and “bold village gateways” also form part of the plans to boost tourism.
The plan also aims to retain and improve the network of unique villages, recognising their distinct history and character.
Proposals to support the local economy are also included, with plans to deliver high speed internet access, and to provide ‘co-working’ or shared office space to allow people to work locally and attract new entrepreneurs.
The last part of the plan is to provide joined-up governance, by establishing a delivery group between partners such as Monmouthshire council, the community councils and Wye Valley AONB Unit.
Monmouthshire council’s place scrutiny committee will consider the plan at a meeting next Thursday, before it goes before the cabinet for adoption.
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