PEDESTRIANISATION of Colchester High Street has long been a debate.
Today we bring you the views of some of the town’s key players.
With fresh plans being put forward to cut congestion in the town, this is something we expect to be on the agenda in the coming years.
Mike Lilley, Colchester Council transport portfolio holder
“The answer is yes!
“If we are to improve air quality, then no vehicles should be allowed in the High Street.
“We could have a street café/bar culture where people can enjoy food and drink outside without being polluted by fumes.
“We can have a market seven days a week, offer chalets to business people on a cheaper rent - more choice, more footfall. Events can be held in the High Street with music, drama street performers.
“With Tollgate and Northern Gateway coming we need to embrace it. Let’s move into the 21st century, backed up by our great history.”
Peter Donaldson, Red Lion Books
“I feel there are just too many problems to making this work.
“Shops depend on multiple deliveries arriving each day. We need to have access ourselves by car to pick up and deliver books to schools.
“Our High Street is wide and when pedestrianisation was tried before it felt like a deserted and unwelcoming place.
“The danger is it sends out a message that Colchester is ‘closed for business’ with the result being ever-increasing numbers of people forget the town centre and head to out of town shopping developments where access is easy, and where parking is free.
“For pedestrianisation of the High Street to work, bold planning and significant funding would be needed.”
Carl Milton, managing director of Fenwick Colchester
“Anything which guarantees the beauty and usability of our town centre should be put up for discussion.
“Improving the town centre to maintain it as the go-to location for residents is at the heart of what is trying to be achieved by the current consultation of local businesses.
“At the heart of our aims is to make the centre a cleaner and safer place for the public, and guarantee it remains a vibrant and enjoyable public space to visit.
“Proposals to pedestrianise the town centre have been muted just like the plans put forward for Oxford Street to improve issues of congestion and pollution in London.”
Norman Bailey, of Cambridge Road, Colchester
“To facilitate pedestrianisation, it will be necessary to provide more user friendly car parking.
“Pay on foot should apply to all car parks and the first two hours should be free. Suitable facilities should be provided for Blue Badge holders so they do not need to park on the streets.
“Very important to the success of pedestrianisation is the provision of a state-of-the-art bus station.
“This could be sited where Vineyard Gate was proposed and could include some retail outlets and a taxi rank.
“Other towns have made their centres more pedestrian-friendly and with the advent of Tollgate Village, Colchester needs to follow suit.”
Suki Dulai, chief executive officer of Flying Trade Group
“We do have grave concerns of the proposition.
“We have made significant investments in the town centre, with our current refurbishment programme for the George Hotel, Claudius Gateway and St Nicholas House, amounting to over £10 million.
“Our primary objective is to ensure the consumer journey is a pleasurable one with easy access to the front of The George.
“If the High Street was pedestrianised, the traffic would be redirected through the Dutch Quarter which has an infrastructure that can’t sustain the flow of traffic.”
David Burch, policy director at Essex Chambers of Trade
“The answer is most definitely yes.
“You only have to look at neighbouring towns, such as Chelmsford, to see pedestrianisation schemes have brought a real vibrancy to the town centre.
“It would enable the town centre to properly host a weekly market, not subject to traffic pollution.
“I know there will be issues with routing traffic and bus routes, but if people want to see Colchester town centre not just survive but thrive, this idea needs to be given proper consideration.”
Lee Scordis, Essex County Council ward councillor
“Yes, I believe the High Street in Colchester should be pedestrianised.
“This will reinvigorate our High Street, make the market more attractive and cut down on emissions and the severe noise pollution.
“Soon, Colchester town centre will have to compete with Tollgate, due to the misguided decision of this Tory Government, and this offers us a way of doing this.
“However, I do not believe we should rush into this. We need to analyse what went wrong last time this was attempted and how we rectify this.
“We also need to work with local businesses on this.”
Daily Gazette, Best performing regional daily newspaper
ORGANISATIONS often get accused of not putting their money where their mouth is.
It appears this is not something which can be levelled at businesses in Colchester.
Today we bring you the story of town centre firms getting together for a common aim: to make the town centre a better place by forming a Business Improvement District.
There are still crucial details to be ironed out, of course, but the idea must be lauded.
Whenever we publish a story about the town centre, parking is a common complaint we receive.
“It’s too expensive” and “There should be free days” are among the calls.
We know Colchester Council is being pulled in several different directions, with bus companies, Essex County Council and others consistently telling the council rates are too cheap.
So the possibility of funding free parking will appeal to many people, as well as support for additional street cleaning.
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