Consultation shapes Cheddar Gorge traffic measures

Seeking feedback on proposals to test new measures to open up Cheddar Gorge to walkers, cyclists and other non-vehicular visitors.

About the project

The Mendip Hills National Landscape’s mission is to create an experience that befits a naturally beautiful and significant visitor attraction like Cheddar Gorge. Their team is passionate about protecting and enhancing the area and making it accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

But some people who live, work in and visit Cheddar Gorge say the area has a long-running challenge with anti-social driving. Previous consultations found support for proposed measures to address this.

The team put forward proposals to close Cheddar Gorge to traffic once a month as an experimental measure to provide opportunities for people to enjoy a traffic-free environment.

The proposals had potential to be contentious, and sensitive communication with the community was seen as essential. The team appointed us to develop and deliver a six-week consultation and stakeholder engagement exercise to gather feedback on the proposals and understand any concerns around their implementation.

We needed to ensure key stakeholders, local residents, and those who visit and enjoy the Gorge understood the plans and had an opportunity to shape them.

What we did

Given the wide geographical spread of potentially interested parties and the available budget, we developed a consultation approach that blended digital, media and stakeholder engagement. 

Our message strategy focused on the fact that this measure was experimental and designed to sensitively test a solution to address previously raised concerns.

We ensured that key stakeholders, including the local MP James Heappey, Liberal Democrat Somerset Council members and Cheddar Parish Council, were personally briefed about the measures.

We also knew from experience that local and regional media are well read and trusted in Somerset, so we ensured our contacts at key outlets were briefed at the start of the consultation. In doing so, we secured more than 15 pieces of print and online coverage, with estimated views of more than 600,000 and 10 items with links back to the client’s website where the consultation survey was hosted.

Our digital engagement made good use of the Mendip Hills National Landscape’s well established and popular website and social media channels. Regular social media posts were shared on the client’s existing channels, and we ran sponsored adverts on Meta to reach those in areas surrounding the Gorge.

A dedicated page on the Mendip Hills National Landscape website became the hub for the consultation, which all material signposted to. This also a link to the online survey.

And the team distributed 120 flyers to businesses and residents in the lower Gorge area to ensure those most likely to be impacted by the proposals were directly engaged.

A dedicated consultation email address and telephone line helped ensure the consultation was accessible.


survey respondents

0 %

agree Cheddar Gorge should be more accessible

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left email addresses to be kept up-to-date


More than 1,700 people completed the survey, with 80.3% of respondents agreeing that Cheddar Gorge should be more accessible for pedestrians, cyclists and other non-vehicular visitors.

More than half of respondents agreed that the closures were in the right location, with 62.3% saying they would like to see the closures all day, and 70.6% choosing Sunday as their preferred time for the closure.

More than 800 people left their email address to receive further updates, suggesting strong levels of interest in and engagement with the project.

The feedback was largely supportive. Many respondents told us that closing the road would create a peaceful and safer environment, enhance the visitor experience, and help reduce anti-social behaviour.

Concerns were raised over the implementation of the closures, the potential impact on businesses, and cyclists posing a hazard.

This feedback will be invaluable in shaping the next phase of the project and has been shared with appropriate partners.

You can read the full consultation report on the Mendip Hills website here.


Rhion Jones, Founder and former Programme Director at the Consultation Institute, and the UK’s most authoritative champion of public and stakeholder consultation, shared our work on LinkedIn, adding:

“As Consultation Guru, I frequently find fault with public consultations. But it’s great occasionally to find an eye-catching best practice exemplar. What makes this worth examining is that surely we will see more communities like Cheddar consider traffic restrictions as part of an active travel strategy, and to offer local people a respite from noise and environmental degradation. Good report – worth reading – so congratulations to Ben and all others involved.”

Header image by Marcus Woodbridge on Unsplash.

View of Cheddar image by Paul Arky on Unsplash.


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