Royston cross plan is next step in “tidying up” town

NORTH Herts District Council’s (NHDC) Royston Area Committee has settled on their preferred option for the redevelopment of the historic Royston Cross area.

The plans, which now wait to be approved by the NHDC Cabinet, include modification of the footpaths and pavements, re-positioning the traffic lines, improving street furniture, relocating the taxi rank, adding double yellow lines and introducing a weight limit.

Royston district councillor Tony Hunter said: “The consultation has been open for months and NHDC have taken into consideration everything that has been submitted by those who responded.

“There was a lot of debate about some of the ideas, like moving the stop signs and giving more freedom to cars and pedestrians, but this option was best suited.

“However the plans could still be changed and is still open to variation.”

Specific changes in the submitted option includes making the footpath on Kneesworth Street wider, expanding the width of the pedestrian crossing, moving a taxi rank to Lower King Street and providing a raised pavement throughout the area.

Cllr Hunter said the changes should benefit the town’s businesses.

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“Following the Fish Hill and Angel Pavement areas, this is the next step in tidying up the town and making them look more pleasant for people to shop here,” he said.

“We have to take into account the footfall for businesses, but we must keep the traffic flowing too, as we live in a modern society where the car is god.”

The area was identified for possible redevelopment in the Royston Town Centre Strategy Supplementary Planning Document in 2008.

A four week consultation period ran last winter, with Herts Highways, Herts police, Royston Town Council, Royston’s Chamber of Commerce and taxi firm Butlers Cars all responding, as well as members of the public.

According to a report put together after the consultation, there was a “general consensus for improvement of open space and de-cluttering.”

Cllr Tom Brindley, NHDC’s portfolio holder for planning, transport and economic development, said The Cross was a prime area of improvement.

“At present, there are a number of features in the Royston Cross area which we feel could be enhanced.

“There are many challenges, as it continues to be a busy road junction where ‘rat-running’ and parking lead to a dominance of cars in the area rather than pedestrians.”

The next step is for NHDC’s Cabinet to approve the option so that it becomes the formal guidance for any development in the area.

The Royston Cross area is though to be around 2,000 years out and was once part of an important route from London to York and Lincoln.