Site for the future

WE all have to grasp the opportunity. The launch of the Royston town centre ­strategy on Saturday gives everyone the chance to shape the future. And it has to be said that it has been a long time coming. Indeed, over the past decades there have been plans

WE all have to grasp the opportunity.

The launch of the Royston town centre ­strategy on Saturday gives everyone the chance to shape the future.

And it has to be said that it has been a long time coming.

Indeed, over the past decades there have been plans to rejuvenate the town centre and the surrounding area.

But now it seems that today's strategy is the most important for the future - and one that deserves everyone's support.

One key aspect of the project will be the much-needed ­development of the town hall site.

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This has been ­discussed for years, and while there has appeared to be a ­willingness to draw-up a scheme, the question of paying for any such project has always appeared to be the stumbling block.

But that stumbling block can be turned into a stepping stone.

Development of the town hall site is an ­essential part of the town centre strategy - and any ­development there has to be seen as a ­priority.

When we talk about development we are ­looking for a multi-purpose civic hall which can be transformed into a theatre and cinema, as well as providing other facilities for the community.

There is the opportunity, too, to transfer the Royston museum to the site.

But any strategy needs public involvement - and that is where the community has to play a vital role.

Strategy is set to shape the future

IT is "vital" for residents to become involved in the ­Royston town centre strategy, says a leading councillor.

The strategy will be launched at Market Hill Rooms on Saturday morning to begin a six-week public consultation exercise seen as shaping the future of the town centre.

Cllr Fiona Hill, chairman of North Herts District Council's Royston area committee, told The Crow: "It is important residents become involved as the strategy is vital to the future of the town centre."

She said that one area where almost immediate action needs to be taking place is Angel Pavement. "It is deteriorating dreadfully," she said.

Cllr Hill said she believed that Angel Pavement was a project being talked about as a short-term scheme.

"The short-term could be up to five years and there are things like Angel Pavement that need to be done now," she said.

"For a short-term five years can be a long time," she added.

It is understood that the council has been having talks with the landlords of Angel Pavement properties over the future of the area.

Town centre manager Geraint Burnell said the Royston Town Centre Forum had been consulted throughout the process of putting the strategy document together.

"We will be making a detailed response to the strategy," said Mr Burnell.

"We encourage public participation because that will emphasise to the district council how important the town centre is to Royston.

"The more people that participate means, hopefully, the message will get across to the district council as to how keen we are to see things improved," he said.

Members of Royston Town Council's planning committee will be discussing the town centre strategy on Monday evening.

The town council plans, too, to make a response to the document but is likely to set-up a working party to look in detail at the strategy.

The strategy has been produced after "extensive consultation" during last year and is seen as providing a guide over the next decade and beyond.

It looks at opportunities for ­development and such issues as promoting business and retail; parking; transport and improving community facilities.

Seven areas have been earmarked for development and enhancement.

# The town hall site

# Royston Cross

# Angel Pavement

# Market Place, the old cattle ­ ­market and the Corn Exchange

# The Warren car park

# Fish Hill square

# Princes Mews

And the key points of the strategy are:

# Building on Royston's position as an historic market town;

# Establishing a united community working together in the interests of promoting the town;

# Ensuring that any new building is of high quality and in keeping with the conservation area;

# Protecting public open space from development;

# Using innovative design in new buildings to reduce waste and energy consumption.

# Providing enough parking while ensuring the town centre is accessible to pedestrians.

Cllr Richard Thake, the district council's portfolio holder for planning, said the public consultation gave residents the "opportunity to influence" improvements to the town centre for its long-term future.

"I hope that we shall receive plenty of comments as we have in the strategies for other towns.

"This strategy is fundamental to delivering our strategic objective of promoting prosperous communities," said Cllr Thake.


The town strategy exhibition will be on show at the Market Hill Rooms on Saturday from 10am-1pm.

It will then be transferred to the Royston library until the end of the public consulation on February 22.

# A questionnaire on the strategy will be availabe at the exhibition and is also online from