Business leaders react to Grantham town centre road changes
As part of the recently announced 'Active Travel Scheme', footway will be reclaimed to make space for pedestrians and for businesses to extend outdoors.
The footway on the west side of St Peter’s Hill, in front of eateries Prezzo and Munch, will be extended at the expense of a road lane, increasing space for pedestrians and outdoor hospitality.
Planters and barriers will be used to temporarily extend the footway and stop parking over the 18-month trial period, while still allowing buses to stop.
The plans for St Peter’s Hill, according to Coun Davies, aim to make space for businesses to extend out on to the street and operate outside.
He said: “In a simple way, it’s almost like a trial of what we’ve done [in Westgate], in terms of reclaiming some of the road space and converting it into a footpath.
“The key there is to try and make it attractive and not look like roadworks, because I think that’s the mistake that other places have made.
“It’s already been done in Stamford and it’s worked very well on Crown Street, for example, made to look far more attractive, with a view to potentially, when we’ve got a system that works, making it more permanent and doing the kind of works that we’ve done on Westgate.
“In order to do that, you need to stop the High Street being such a traffic intensive route.”
Vahid Farah, owner of café Munch on St Peter’s Hill, said he welcomed the changes, that he was “positive towards it”, but asked for more consultation from the council on the finer details of the plan going forward.
He said: “We know the town better than anyone else, because we live in it every day and our livelihood depends on it everyday, that’s why we have to know it better than anyone else.
“A lot of our business, especially this part of town, is where people can park, and just get into a shop, run in and run out. We will lose that, but I suppose we have to look at what you gain and what you lose.
“It isn’t always a bad thing to have traffic through town.”
Lesley Pashley, chair of Grantham Business Club, was positive about the impact of the active travel scheme on the town’s businesses.
She said: “I suppose, representing all of [Grantham’s] businesses, it’s going to be slightly mixed views.
“My initial thought from the business club is that, if the town centre is a nicer place to be and less congested with traffic, we’re going to attract more people into the town, I would argue.
“If we’re focussing on the town centre businesses, then that can only be a good thing for them.
“I think we need to make a lot more of the Market Place than we do. If you look at other towns nearby, they have a traffic-free market place, and it starts to become much more of a centre of town, and you can hold events there, people can sit out a lot more than they do.
“As a business club, we definitely welcome the trial, and just see how it pans out really.
“I think, once the bypass is open, that’s going to make a big difference to the traffic anyway in town. It just needs to become a lot nicer place to visit and I think taking cars away from the centre and making it more pedestrian and bike friendly can only be a good thing.”
Councillor Kelham Cooke, leader of South Kesteven District Council and cabinet member for economic development and growth, told the Journal: “Lincolnshire County Council’s active travel scheme for the High Street and St Peter’s Hill, which hopes to limit traffic and improve the area for pedestrians, is a perfect example of the type of improvement that we are supportive of in order to create better town centres for our residents to enjoy.
“Limiting traffic in town centres improves safety and creates a more enjoyable and relaxing environment in which to enjoy shopping, visiting restaurants and socialising.”