Radical plan to ban drivers from traveling through the city

Canterbury City Council has caused a storm by unveiling a sweeping plan to divide the city into five zones – and ban residents from driving directly between them.

In an effort to resolve decades of congestion, anyone wishing to travel from one area to another should drive to a planned new ring road, drive around the city, and then re-enter it.

Visitors would be banned from parking in the city, with a network of park-and-rides on the outskirts planned to get them in and out.

Planners, who modeled the vision on a system in place in Ghent, Belgium, aim to stop journeys through the city – with license plate recognition cameras used to enforce it.

The proposal forms part of the council’s new draft local plan. The cabinet of the council will meet on Wednesday October 19 to decide whether to subject it to a 12-week consultation.

Opposition advisers denounced the plan, both for its details and for the sudden nature of the announcement.

Nick Eden-Green (Lib Dem), said it was “frankly ridiculous” and called the areas “ghettos where people are locked up”.

He added: “Whether or not you can go to the supermarket may depend on which side of the road you live on.”

Secondary roads connecting the areas will be closed, with ANPR cameras positioned at entry and exit points.

Council leader Ben Fitter-Harding (Con) said: “The aim is not to declare war on motorists – the aim is to make it easier.

“It’s a big city, but it can be so much more if we fix the fundamental flaws in how transport works.”

He added: “For residents of the five zones, they can access facilities in their neighborhood by car if they need to. But if you want to move to another neighborhood, the best way to do so will be on foot, to ride a bicycle or use public transport.

He said all the amenities people needed would be in their own areas.

Labor leader Dave Wilson said he and his colleagues only found out about the vision on Monday.

He said: “If you really want to change people’s behavior, you have to give them options, not impose something on them.”

He said Labor would end the plan if it took power in local elections in May.

The local plan takes Canterbury to 2045, with traffic proposals unlikely to come into effect until the 2040s.

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