Waltham Cross town centre could be completely unrecognisable this time next year if a proposal gets the go ahead.
Broxbourne Borough Council has planned a total transformation including re-introducing cars to the currently pedestrianised High Street.
Though businesses have suffered during the pandemic, it’s believed they could benefit from the refurbishment, which is intended to offer more access for shoppers, cyclists and better street lighting.
These plans are currently in the consultation stages, that means the residents of Waltham Cross can still have their say.
There are four key sections the council has highlighted and is seeking public opinion on –
- The creation of a ‘flexible’ High Street
- Greater opportunities for residents to walk and cycle within and around the town centre
- A new cycle track along the western side of Monarch’s Way
- A new ‘green wall’ along Monarch’s Way
Whether you’re all for it, on the fence, or totally against the redevelopment, here’s all the information you need.
What is a ‘flexible’ High Street?
The council is proposing to create a “flexible” High Street but what does this mean?
According to the proposals, while the streets will mostly remain pedestrianised, it’s hoped some traffic can be reintroduced to bring more people to the area.
The market will continue uninterrupted as on both Wednesdays and Fridays cars will not have access between 6am and 6pm.
But the section accessed from Park Lane will be open for drivers wanting to use the short-term parking bays on the northern High Street. There will be 29 new short stay parking bays and three disabled bays provided along the street.
Access to the northern end of the High Street from Eleanor Cross Road (one-way) will remain closed during the day from 6am to 6pm.
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But people will be allowed to drive there overnight, which the council hopes will make residents feel safer and boost the night-time economy.
This will be manually controlled by a gate system.
The speed limit will be 20mph.
Ward Councillor Carol Bowman (Labour) has been sharing the consultation on social media to get an idea of public opinion.
She said: “Some folk aren’t too happy about opening it up to traffic but we aren’t going to get more people to go down the north end of the High Street without it.
“I think it’ll be nothing but good for our residents, we’re totally with the council.”
What will happen to the shops?
It’s thought shops would have to close due to the redevelopment but it is hoped the face-lift will improve the diversity of stores in the town.
It’s also hoped that it will encourage more people to head down to the town centre, and enable bars to stay open later.
A council spokesman told HertsLive, it will work closely with local businesses to minimise any disruption caused by the improvement works.
Cllr Bowman said: “As far as I’m aware people will have access to the shops, when other works were done there was access, but people had to walk round a barrier.
“As far as I’m aware, no shops will have to close because of it.”
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When asked about new shops, she said: “We do need to improve Waltham Cross, a lot of it is we need better shops but the council doesn’t have jurisdiction on that.
“We’ve lost a lot of shops, embassy bingo and the cinema closing, we’ve lost the proper butchers and things like that.
“Local folk want easy shops, and mums want a bargain, Matalan or Primark would be good.
“A lot of what I’ve seen on social media is the lack of shops, there’s no children’s shops at all.”
How will this help me?
One councillor has said the proposals will improve the health and wellbeing of Waltham Cross residents – but how can a modern new High Street achieve this?
Councillor Steve Wortley, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth said: “The improvements will make access to the High Street easier for everyone, improve the health and wellbeing of residents and encourage economic recovery from the pandemic.
“This will improve local air quality and encourage physical activity, making the region a better place to live, work and visit.”
In terms of being more active it’s hoped a new cycle path and better pedestrian crossings will encourage more people to exercise.
There is to be a new crossing on at the junction of Monarch’s Way and for Eleanor Cross Road, plus a new cycle track which will lead to the bus and train station.
The council also plans to remove the underpass.
There will also be the installation of a new signalised pedestrian and cycle crossing at the junction of Monarch’s Way and the northern High Street, where the new one-way high street will exit onto Monarch’s Way. Additionally, a zebra crossing is proposed for Eleanor Cross Road.
Plans include a ‘green wall’ – a vertical planting space which will be filled with flowers and foliage, with the idea that the increased plants and reduced traffic should improve the air quality as well as being aesthetically pleasing.
What stage is the planning application at?
The plans have been submitted as a bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF) to help finance the overhaul.
Currently the council is waiting to hear back on whether it will receive funding.
There is one week left of the consultation period where residents, business owners and visitors to voice their opinions on the potential improvements.
A Council spokesperson said: “External funding is required for the Waltham Cross Improvements to proceed.
“The Council has submitted a bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, the result of which should be known in the autumn. If the bid is successful, work could start in autumn 2022.
“If the bid is not successful the Council will explore other external funding opportunities.”
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