'We are very disappointed': Shrewsbury town centre roads revamp plans under fire from business group
The latest stage of Shrewsbury's multi-million pound roads revamp has come under fire from an organisation representing the town's businesses, which say it is "very disappointed" with the plans.
Shropshire Council began work on changes to vital town-centre routes Mardol and Claremont Street earlier this month.
The changes are part of the council's 'Shrewsbury Integrated Transport Package', but Shrewsbury Business Improvement District (BID) has called for a re-think over what it says will be the "limited long-term benefit to these historic streets".
In a statement, the BID's executive director Seb Slater said that the focus should be on moving the town centre towards 'pedestrian priority streets using high quality local materials'.
The council plans will see the roads and pavements resurfaced, along with the new pedestrian crossings. The BID wants the work to go further, and has argued for a "transformative" approach to the streets.
Mr Slater said: "Shrewsbury BID is not able to support large parts of the SITP Phase 2 scheme set to be delivered by Shropshire Council starting in February.
"We have been involved in lengthy discussions over many months with Shropshire Council Highways and senior officials regarding the design of the town centre scheme.
"We have consistently argued for transformative public realm to revitalise some of Shrewsbury’s most important streets.
"Under the plans to be delivered by Shropshire Council, Mardol and Claremont Street will retain current road layouts and parking arrangements with pavements replaced and highway resurfaced.
"We are very disappointed at this approach which we believe will cause disruption during the works for limited long-term benefit to these historic streets."
The BID says towns have seen an increase in visitors through re-organising streets with the priority on pedestrians.
The spokesman said: "The evidence from comparable places and schemes elsewhere which have delivered a significant uplift in vitality and footfall shows that high-quality public realm, including the reallocation and reprioritisation of highway space, is key to their commercial and social success.
"We believe that where possible, the town centre should be transitioning to pedestrian priority streets using high quality local materials to reflect the town’s heritage, whilst retaining vehicle access and flexible on-street parking/loading to optimise the vitality of each street.
"Whilst we are very disappointed at the overall design, we are having constructive discussion with Shropshire Council to soften and enhance the scheme through landscaping and other measures."
The spokesman added: "Following the success of Shoplatch Park last summer, we are pleased to be working with Shropshire Council to install several smaller parklets and look forward to the installation of the new Wayfinding system during 2020.
"We will work with all partners to ensure that any road closures relating to SITP works are minimised and that where possible mitigating activities are put in place.
"We continue to work closely with Shropshire Council and Shrewsbury Town Council on the development of the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan. Later this year we will be jointly launching a movement strategy to help ensure that future improvements are aligned to a shared vision and set of priorities. Shrewsbury BID looks forward to engaging with businesses on this work over the coming months."
Shropshire Council has been contacted for comment.