Strategy is a Utopian vision'

PUBLISHED: 14:23 14 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:40 11 May 2010

CLLR ROD KENNEDY

CLLR ROD KENNEDY

COUNCILLORS and representatives from North Herts District Council will be attending the town centre strategy exhibition at Royston library tomorrow (Friday) and on Monday. The idea is to use the sessions to answer questions from the public. The session to

COUNCILLORS and representatives from North Herts District Council will be attending the town centre strategy exhibition at Royston library tomorrow (Friday) and on Monday.

The idea is to use the sessions to answer questions from the public.

The session tomorrow will be taking place between 3-6pm and on Monday between 4-7pm.

THE Royston Town Centre Strategy has been branded "disappointing" and giv-ing the appearance of a "utopian vision".

Town councillor Cllr Rod Kennedy, who led a working party preparing a response to the document, said: "It needs to take out what cannot be done and put in what can be done."

He said, otherwise, the strategy document would remain an "insult to people's intelligence".

His comments came during a meeting of Royston Town Council's planning committee when it was considering its response to the town centre strategy which had been drawn up by consultants working for North Herts District Council.

Cllr Kennedy believed that the document should have "balanced the needs of town".

"It needs to look at the reality of the situation and not see it in the light of a Utopian vision," he said.

He was critical of suggestions to develop more residential units in the town centre where he said there was a need for an increase in leisure facilities.

"We should not be wasting valuable sites on building more residential develop-ments," he said.

He said it was a mistake to talk in the strategy of reducing parking spaces when a proper public transport system does not exist.

He doubted whether public transport - such as the town bus service - would be revived unless "there is a Fairy Godmother" to pay for the services.

And Cllr Kennedy believed that the market was the key to the regeneration of the town centre and that investment there was desperately needed.

He was critical, too, of an idea to develop part of the town hall site with housing. "The part of the car park we are talking about is owned by Herts County Council and we can't see the county council ploughing its money back."

Cllr Kennedy would like to see traffic calming in Melbourn Street and Baldock Street, and a pedestrianised area in the High Street to make it more vibrant.

The old cattle market, he said, could be turned into a site which could see the development of a Victorian-style market and be used for occasions such as the French and Italian markets.

In its 25-page response to the strategy document, the town council said: "Without a pros-perous town centre, Royston will simply be a cluster of housing estates."

Louise Symes, the district council's projects manager for planning services, told members that the strategy was a document to "stimulate discussions" and that all comments during the public consultation period would be considered.

She said the strategy would provide a "mechanism" for the future.

Meanwhile, Tessa O'Neill, one of the team of consultants responsible for the strategy, said: "Sometimes there are ideas that seem outlandish but out of which there can come some interesting points."

She described the strategy as a "concept plan".

Planning committee chair-man Cllr Bill Prime said: "The real concern at the end of the day is to get this right.

"This is a crunch time for us and any plans for the future needs the support of the population," he said.

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