£1.5million regeneration project for Welwyn Garden City town centre announced

A visual mock-up of what Stonehills could look like after the changes.

A visual mock-up of what Stonehills could look like after the changes. - Credit: Archant

Welwyn Garden City town centre could be set for a radical £1.5million regeneration programme – which will potentially include part-pedestrianisation and a 20mph speed limit.

The borough council will start consulting residents and businesses on the revolutionary plans this week, in hope that they will be completed by the town’s 2020 centenary.

Among them will be banning all traffic other than taxis from Stonehills, where the cabbies’ rank would be relocated from its current base opposite The Howard Centre.

Pedestrianising the connection between Wigmores North and Howardsgate will also be considered, along with making Fretherne Road one-way towards Church Road.

A borough council spokeswoman said: “Initial ideas have been developed to help ensure WGC town centre continues to be an attractive, vibrant location, given the changing face of retail and role of town centres across the country.

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“The aim is to encourage people to make better use of the town by making the space more pleasant and easier to move around.

“It could also provide opportunities for new and existing businesses.”

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Council chiefs believe the current traffic system encourages motorists to do “laps” when looking to park, which clogs up roads and hinders the shopping experience.

However, a borough council spokeswoman confirmed that up to 50 parking spaces may be lost – mostly those in Stonehills – but also through resizing of current bays to cater for modern cars.

She said that the final number, as well as the overall project cost, will be dependent on which suggestions are formally adopted.

Councillor Mandy Perkins, executive member for planning, housing and community, said: “At this early stage, we’re asking everyone to tell us what they think so they can help shape the plans as they move forward toward formal consultation.

“We want to hear what parts of the town people think work well and where they feel it could be enhanced and improved.”

Another radical change will be imposing a 20mph speed limit, as well as introducing numerous “stitches” – crossings which encourage vehicles to stop – in most of the roads.

There will also be a drive to resurface the area’s footways and carriageways, whilst also introducing additional seating areas and planting.

The county council, which it is understood will fund most of the project, had previously said it would consult residents on pedestrianising Howardsgate and Parkway, but it has emerged that will not be among the options considered.

Plans will be displayed between 10am and 2pm in The Howard Centre on Saturday, July 22, and on Monday, July 24, between 3pm and 7pm.

Feedback can also be sent until Monday, August 7, by email to WelwynGardenCityTownCentre@hertfordshire.gov.uk.

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