Blueprint for the future

PUBLISHED: 19:40 18 June 2008 | UPDATED: 15:47 11 May 2010

CLLR F JOHN SMITH

CLLR F JOHN SMITH

AFTER months of talks and seemingly endless revisions the Royston Town Centre Strategy has virtually been approved. It has to be seen as a blueprint for the future: an important document which will shape the town centre over the next decade and beyond. In

AFTER months of talks and seemingly endless revisions the Royston Town Centre Strategy has virtually been approved.

It has to be seen as a blueprint for the future: an important document which will shape the town centre over the next decade and beyond.

Indeed, members of North Herts District Council's Royston area committee gave their support to the intentions behind the 330-page document.

Now it is a question of the district council's Cabinet simply rubber-stamping the proposals.

After all, it has been the elected members representing Royston that have been involved in the process of ensuring that those proposals are absolutely right.

And to give them credit they have appeared at times to tear the document apart to make sure that the scheme is, indeed, workable.

And Royston Town Council were critical, too, when a draft version of the report appeared several months ago.

Ideas that seemed inpractical and others which were not quite described as ridiculous have disappeared.

Who said democracy was dead?

Now there is a strategy which unlike those of the past does seem to represent the majority of views of all those involved in the process.

It's a question now of putting it into practice. In other words, getting on with the work.

There are short-term measures we need to be implemented and the Royston area committee was quite right last week when discussing the document to insist that, to use the common phrase, something needs to be seen to be done.

The committee members have said that there has to be a regular report on the progress of the strategy.

And what of the document itself?

There have been a number of key changes to the original document and there is now in place, too, an action plan.

Committee chairman Cllr Fiona Hill said: "It is vital that time-scales are adhered to and that we move forward positively."

And Cllr F John Smith was adamant that the action plan was the key to the whole process.

"It's important that some of the short-term work is dealt with quickly," he said.

And he stressed that as leader of the district council he would encourage his Cabinet to accept the document.

He said that the Greater Cambridge Partnership - which includes Royston in its catchment area - was "moderately optimistic about the future".

"We need regular monitoring of the action plan and all that we need can be achieved in a sensible manner," he said.

Cllr Peter Burt described the document as "impressive" and one that showed "we are going in the right direction".

Cllr Howard Marshall commented that any plans for the future had to be "sensitive" about car parking.

And he hoped that proposals would be developed to see improvements to such areas as Angel Pavement which he des-cribed as "the most depressing part of the town".

Projects manager Louise Symes said the town centre strategy rested in "getting the key people around the table".

She said she wanted to see those who could contribute to the plans.

KEY POINTS IN ACTION PLAN

Town Hall site:

Prepare a development brief for the site which will include:

appointing consultants to prepare a detailed development brief in partnership with all key land owners

undertake a detailed viability assessment of preferred development options for the site

investigate improvements to strenghten pedestrian linkages at appropriate locations along Melbourn Street between the site and the town centre core area.

The Cross:

Prepare a design brief for the area that will enhance the area.

access feasibility of changes to the junction layout and possible relocation of taxi rank.

Angel Pavement:

initiate and enter discussions with all land owners to promote redevelopment of the site.

consider all development options in line with national and local planning policy and promote market testing of the site.

Corn Exchange/Market Place/Old Cattle Market Site

Initiate and enter into discussions with all land owners and operators to:

promote enhancement of the market area and facilities for market traders as part of any public realm improvements in the area

improve the south-western entrance to the Priory Memorial Gardens

encourage the redevelopment of the old cattle market site

consider possible relocation of bus stop and bus layover space from The Warren car park as part of any public realm improvements in the area..

The Warren car park:

appoint consultants to undertake a viability assessment of the proposed development options for the site.

consider the need for and relocation of the bus stop and layover facilities at the Market Place.

identify suitable sources of funding to improve the car parking facilities and capacity as required.

market test the site for development opportunities.

improve pedestrian linkage between The Warren car park and Market Hill area.

Fish Hill square:

Prepare a design brief for the enhancement of the square that will include:

appointment of consultants to prepare a detail design scheme.

assess service delivery and traffic access arrangements.

access loss of short-term parking and investigate re-provision elsewhere

investigate feasibility of square being used for other activities and events.

prepare brief and contract documents for implementation of work on site.

appoint contractors and start implementation of scheme.

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