Could transport changes bring ‘millions’ in investment to Weston-super-Mare?

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 June 2016

Alexandra Parade, Weston.

Alexandra Parade, Weston.

Archant

The pedestrianisation of major streets, new tree-lined boulevards and an overhaul of the Town Square are just some of the ways North Somerset Council is hoping to attract new people to Weston town centre.

The council is considering reducing the ‘dominance’ of traffic in the town centre by altering to the road layout at Alexandra Parade, which could become a public transport ‘hub’ with a new right turn for cars into Alfred Street if the proposals go ahead.

Other changes being considered include creating a tree-lined boulevard along Station Road, Walliscote Grove Road and Carlton Street to provide a major route to connect the town centre with the seafront, while Regent Street could be pedestrianised.

A report into the proposals said: “In terms of changing perceptions, attracting new people to live in the town centre, creating a better-functioning place and extracting value, there needs to be a reduction in traffic movement and dominance, as well as improvements to the public realm.

“The main street pattern and hierarchy will create a well-functioning, well-connected place and provide enabling infrastructure projects that will set the context for new development.”

The council said the aim is to create a more ‘pleasant’ environment for cyclists and pedestrians.

A spokesman said: “The council is in the early stages of developing a movement strategy to support the regeneration of Weston town centre. No decisions have yet been made on any of the proposals.

“The strategy is intended to make it easier for people to find their way around the town centre, whether travelling on foot, by bike, public transport or by car.

“The intention is to create a more pleasant experience for pedestrians and a safer environment for cyclists, as well as making it easier to use bus services.”

In addition, the council also hopes to improve the Town Square by turning it into an ‘interesting’ space for events.

Executive member for highways, Elfan Ap Rees, stressed the proposals were at a very early stage.

He said: “As far as the Town Square is concerned, we are looking at possibly removing a section of the Italian Gardens wall so that you have access straight into the Town Square, and possibly having a small extension to the Sovereign Centre where the colonnade is at the moment, so that we can add a better frontage to the shopping centre.

“At the moment it is kind of tucked away and hidden behind that wall, and what is there is not particularly attractive anymore, so the aim is to do something there which makes it more interesting and a better site for events.

“As the new college develops at the Winter Gardens there will be more use of that area anyway.”

Cllr Richard Nightingale, whose Central ward includes the town centre, said he felt the plans would pave the way for investment unlike anything ever seen in the town before.

He said: “Everything should, and must be, considered right across the board, from the first impressions of visitors who arrive in our town to how we can improve the lives of everyone who lives and works in the centre.

“Creating tree-lined drives, cycleways, more pedestrian areas and improving the quality of the open space will undoubtedly help.

“I am sure these plans will open the doors to millions of pounds of investment on a scale that Weston has never seen before.”

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