Mill Road Changes – Our View

The restrictions on motor traffic on Mill Road have prompted a lot of debate amongst Romsey and Petersfield residents. The County Council have published a survey asking for your views; and they will use the results to decide whether these restrictions should remain after December.

We think that the advantages of the restrictions clearly outweigh any disadvantages. Why? We have published our thoughts on 3 of the key questions asked in the survey below; please feel free to use these in your response. And in any case, whatever your views, remember to complete the survey!

Equality Matters

Question 8: Does the scheme promote equality?

In many ways the traffic restrictions align well with the County Council’s responsibilities under the Equality Act.

Key Points:

  • Those with breathing problems e.g. asthma, COPD benefit from reduced pollution
  • People with heart problems gain from reduced pollution
  • Exhaust fumes actually cause disability / illness – and vehicle exhausts are at the level of young children
  • Fresher air may encourage more disabled people to cycle and walk, which in turn is good for their health. Mill Rd has been so polluted in the past that many have avoided it.
  • People with mobility scooters, walking frames and sticks have more space, and with built out pavements these people are more free to move around
  • Deaf and blind residents have found Mill Road a friendlier environment
  • Parent and carers with prams and buggies now have more space
  • The community gains when people are on foot or cycling and this is good for people’s mental health

Example Responses

Individuals with disabilities affected by the bridge closure in Romsey can probably be split into three groups. Blue badge owners who drive cars, blue badge owners who don’t drive cars and those with breathing and heart problems that are exacerbated by pollution. Some in the first two groups seek to allow people with blue badges to cross the bridge, I am not against this. Nonetheless I would be against fully opening the bridge on this basis. It would also increase pollution and discriminate against the third group with heart and respiratory related problems (and people whose health is being damaged by pollution such as children).

The reduction in pollution and traffic has made it possible for many disabled people with breathing and heart problems to go onto Mill Rd. Babies/children are no longer subjected to pollutants that would harm their development. Active travel has increased as people get out of their cars and walk and cycle. People with disability buggies and walkies now have the space to use the pavement. In reference to potential discrimination, now that these and others have enjoyed a pollution free atmosphere and increased safety, it could now be seen as discriminatory against them if the bridge was to be opened fully (or even if taxis for example) were allowed as an exemption.

back to the top

complete the survey

Question 9: The Build Outs

The purpose of the build outs is to enable social distancing. We think the County Council must improve their functionality and appearance. And use some of the hundreds of thousands of pounds they are raising in fines from the bridge to make this happen.

Key points

  • The build outs have increased public safety by allowing social distancing to be maintained
  • The build outs have given the public confidence to use the bridge (particularly cyclists, pedestrians and families with young children)
  • Without build outs, vehicles would be more likely to speed down Mill Rd
  • Many of the arguments against them are about their appearance; this in turn slants people’s views on how effective they are
  • The current locations and style of the build outs should be improved; most residents’ current concerns include the temporary and unpleasant look – the concerns are not about the build outs themselves
  • Fines from the bridge or crowd funding could pay for something more substantial, like the planters outside the coop on Mill Rd, or (like a parklet) extending the pavements; this would
    • further increase community cohesion
    • make it easier to promote Mill Road as a safe and welcoming shopping destination


The buildouts create safe areas of pavement where vehicles are separated from pedestrians, and pedestrians can separate from each other by stepping into them instead of the road. They also are essential to reduce the speed of the traffic.

Previously cars and people on foot/wheelchair were (and still are in many places) literally in touching distance of each other. Allowing people to socially distance during the pandemic is essential and under more normal conditions the separation should continue to allow safe passage of wheelchairs, buggies or pedestrians with shopping (without stepping into a busy traffic lane).

There is pressure for space on Mill Road and we need to provide more for the local community to shop, meet each other and simply be there. Clearly many people can occupy the same space that would otherwise be taken up by through-traffic polluters. The materials used to make the build outs could be improved by building planters in similar fashion to those outside the Coop so that people can relax on Mill Rd. There could also be parklets to develop our community (these could be sponsored or crowd funded like the parklet in summer 2019).

back to the top

complete the survey

Question 11: Comments on the Bridge Closure

Restricting motor traffic across Mill Road bridge has reduced pollution, improved road safety, enabled social distancing, helped the local economy and generated an even greater sense of community in Romsey.

Key points

  • Reduction in noise, air and traffic pollution
    • The restrictions on Mill Rd Bridge encourage active travel
    • The reduction in vehicles reduces noise and air pollution, and has transformed our experience of shopping and socialising (at a distance) on Mill Rd
    • The reduction in traffic means that buses can now run more regularly, efficiently and on time
    • Enabling higher uptake in use of public transport can reduce carbon emissions from private cars
  • Improved road safety
    • Mill Rd has never been a very safe place to cycle or walk. The closure has not only reduced the traffic it has enabled an increased sense of community; similar to the one Romsey experienced during the bridge closure of 2019.
  • Support for local businesses
    • People working from home are likely to increasingly use Mill Rd as a place to walk during lunchtime and to buy lunch/coffee.
    • Traders are reporting that their businesses are thriving – particularly the café and evening economy
    • New businesses are showing their confidence by starting up on Mill Road despite lockdowns and the pandemic
  • Social Distancing
    • Pedestrians can now use the road and build outs to increase social distancing
  • Greater sense of community
    • Public confidence in shopping local has increased as a result of easier social distancing; this has engendered a greater sense of community and greater uptake of shopping local.
  • Mill Rd provides an example that can be built on throughout the city


Mill Road is the local high street with shops that are largely able to provide for all the needs of the 20k residents in the area.  Indeed, during the current phrase, it has allowed people to shop locally and ‘safely’.

The road and pavements are narrow and year on year polluting traffic increases (circa 10,000 a day). There are no realistic places for polluting commuters to stop and shop without driving onto the pavement.  Now the bridge is ‘closed’, traffic has reduced considerably; cyclists and pedestrians are safer, and pollution has reduced significantly. While there is still a way to go, the single largest improvement in air and quality of life in Romsey has been the restriction on Mill Road Bridge. The reduction in through polluting traffic and the introduction of the build-outs has allowed social distancing during the pandemic, reduced danger of injury, and reduced noise and air pollution.  Active travel has visibly increased and probably the most used phrase in Romsey is “I would never let my kids cycle on Mill Rd as it was.  Now I am actively encouraging them to cycle”. This along with more people feeling safe enough to cycle their children to school, reduces some of the 50% of Cambridge car traffic that currently originates within Cambridge. With less through traffic on Mill Road, buses can run on time and thus be more attractive alternatives long term, to car travel.

One third of the shops on Mill Rd sell food to eat on the premises.  This has visibly increased since the traffic has reduced and has resulted in a visible increase in community spirit. There has been some initial criticism from the traders, but this was early on and has fallen away.  Some people have argued this closure is restricting access but the whole of Mill Rd can still be reached by a car and buses also cross the bridge.

Many of our residents are now working from home.  If this continues as expected after Covid then these people are likely to use Mill Rd during their lunchtime as a means of leaving their home.  Some of the traders are offering outside eating spaces and this is because the pollution and noise has all but disappeared. Who wants to eat out and breath in pollution? Thanks to the Bus gate, the sense of community is improving as it did last year when the bridge was shut.  Covid has changed people’s shopping behaviour and increased a desire to stay local, especially with many working at home instead of traveling to a distant office.

back to the top

complete the survey

Mill Road: Positive Thinking in Trying Times

The economic impacts of Covid-19 are badly affecting many of our Mill Road shops.

Some traders have coped OK. Some traders have been able to make modifications to their businesses in order to adapt. But others are closing down or have been put under significant economic pressure.

We want to see Mill Road remain a vibrant street in the heart of our community. Further down the page you can tell us how we could best work together to achieve that.

Covid-19: National Retail Impact

Mill Road suffering from online competition
  • The Office for National Statistics’ figures show online shopping has risen substantially since the start of lockdown and continues at historically high levels. At the same time there has been a dramatic reduction in fuel consumption throughout Britain. These national trends have hit those stores without an online presence hardest.
  • Overall 57% of all businesses in the UK are now suffering a serious downturn.
  • Millions of people are now either out of work or fearing for their jobs, impacting all non-essential sales.
  • Monitoring shows that footfall in Mill Rd has fallen in line with similar UK high streets.
  • There are much lower student numbers in Cambridge right now. Fewer people are walking and cycling down Mill Road to go to the city centre. Both factors will adversely affect traders.
  • We have large numbers of businesses on Mill Road which by their nature can’t provide online services. And others need physical customers walking through the door in order to thrive – e.g. some restaurants simply can’t survive with online orders alone.
  • Most of our traders need more “real” customers back on Mill Road.

Where Does Mill Road Go From Here?

Which way now for Mill Road?

Residents & traders should collaborate! We will be campaigning to make Mill Road a more attractive destination for all shoppers, while maintaining covid safety standards. And we must work to ensure that already disadvantaged groups (e.g. the chronically sick and the disabled) are not further penalised by the bridge closure.

Mill Road Ideas

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas!

We want your ideas. Please tell us about them using the form below!

We’ll collate the responses, and then feedback to you. We’ll also provide an opportunity for discussion in a public zoom meeting, date tbc.

If you’re short on inspiration you can read what people thought should change on Mill Road at the last public meeting held at St Barnabas Church Petersfield in October 2019.

But particularly if you’ve used Mill Road recently we hope you’ll come up with some great ideas of your own

Please choose up to 4 key changes that would encourage you to spend more money on Mill Road. You can use the comments box at the bottom to expand on your answers.

County Council Proposes Covid-19 Safety Changes to Mill Road

Following our campaign to make Mill Road safer during the Covid-19 epidemic, we’re pleased to see Cambridgeshire County Council has now proposed a number of changes. These include the closure of Mill Road to most motor vehicles at the bridge.

The changes will mitigate the risk of Covid-19 transmission by making social distancing possible and safe. They will also make it easier and safer to walk and cycle, and ensure bus journey times are predictable.

A “modal filter” on the bridge will use number plate recognition cameras to only allow certain types of motor vehicle (e.g. buses) over the bridge. Other types of vehicle that ignore the warnings will be fined. The substantial reduction in traffic volume will allow pavement widening in a number of places, benefiting both residents and traders. The additional space created will facilitate social distancing, as well as making shopping, queuing and eating on Mill Road both practical and safe.

The changes, which are funded by central government should begin to be implemented next week.

We know from a number of previous consultations with local people that a large majority of local residents support making Mill Road safer, less polluted and more welcoming for pedestrians and cyclists. Now the Covid-19 pandemic has given these changes an additional urgency.

And the improved environment for shoppers will present real business opportunities for those local Mill Road traders who can think positively and grasp them.

If you add your details below we’ll send a supportive message to the County Council including your signature.

You can also send a personal email to the County Council in support of the changes to

If you have any comments on the proposals, you can put them here and we'll pass them on with our message of support to the County Coucil.

We will look after your personal data - you can read our Privacy Policy here.