After years of discussions and planning, a ban on traffic heading through Braintree town centre will be enforced today.

It will mean the majority of vehicles will be prohibited from driving in Market Place, Great Square and High Street.

The ban forms part of a £2.95m scheme which will see parts of the town centre regenerated.

Here is everything you need to know about the new rules coming into effect today:

What vehicles are and aren't included in the ban?

Cars, motorbikes, vans and busses will all be prevented from going through the town centre.

Access for emergency services will be maintained at all times however.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Exceptions will also be made to delivery vehicles which can access High Street, via Bank Street, between 6am and 10am each day.

Deliveries outside of those times will be required to use the service yards around the town centre.

Does the ban apply to blue badge holders and people with disabilities?

In short, yes. The blue badge holder spaces in Market Place will be closed from today.

Anyone wishing to use disabled parking is asked to use new spaces created in Bank Street.

Other disabled parking is also available in Tesco, Sainsbury's and George Yard shopping centre car parks.

What's happening to bus stops?

The two bus stops on High Street will also be closed from today.

They will be relocated to Manor Street where there is a temporary set of bus stops due to the ongoing regeneration scheme.

Services affected by the traffic ban are 9, 9A, 21, 38A, 42B, 70, 133, 345 and 352.

Braintree and Witham Times:

To avoid buses going in and out of the town centre via Manor Street and Victoria Street, a southbound bus lane has been created along Fairfield Road.

Further information about the changes to bus stop is available here.

How will the ban be enforced?

New signage has been set up around the town to warn motorists about the traffic ban.

Bollards will also be installed in the coming weeks to control traffic flow, specifically in public squares and places.

They will be locked into the ground but can be removed for special events.

Why is there a traffic ban?

An estimated 76 per cent of residents and businesses in Braintree supported pedestrianising the town centre, according to a survey undertaken by Braintree Council in 2019.

Council bosses also hope it will boost footfall and aid the town’s recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Economic development boss Tom Cunningham said: “Thanks to partnership funding from Braintree Council, Essex County Council and Department for Transport, this scheme will bring a much-needed boost to the town centre.

Braintree and Witham Times:

"It’s been in the pipeline for a long time, and as the pandemic has hit high streets across the country hard, this work will help Braintree town centre to recover, creating a vibrant and accessible environment for residents, businesses and visitors.

"A huge thank you to everyone who lives, works and visits in the town centre for their patience and understanding as these new changes begin."

Robert Mitchell, Essex County Council Deputy Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and County Councillor for Braintree Eastern division, said: “I know how important this work is to Braintree town centre, work which will create safer, greener, healthier streets.

"Essex County Council is pleased to be a partner in this scheme with Braintree Council, recent studies have shown that pedestrianisation of town centres boosts footfall and creates space for pedestrians and cyclists, cutting down on emissions and improving public health.

"The benefits of this scheme are obvious and it would be great to see this type of partnership work, rolled out to create safer streets in other towns in Essex."

What improvements are being made?

The hot topic of the uneven paving in Braintree town centre will be addressed with resurfacing taking place throughout.

This will effectively see a single-level surface in place across Market Place, Great Square and High Street.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Other improvements include:

  • New lighting will be installed to the sides of Market Place to leave more space for markets and activities
  • New CCTV will be installed to cover the pedestrianised area as well as additional under-ground ‘ducting’ to future-proof the town
  • Wi-Fi will be installed and new festive lighting fixing points to enhance the display options
  • More cycle parking at the edges of the pedestrianised area
  • More electricity points to power a greater range of market stalls