Upgrades to key shopping street will leave town 'well-placed' for future

Welwyn Garden City

A visualisation of how the new Stonehills square will look once work is complete - Credit: HCC

A project to improve a key shopping street in the heart of Welwyn Garden City town centre is set to kick-off in July, with some underground apparatus relocation work taking place in the Spring.

The transformation of Stonehills is the first phase of wider plans developed by Hertfordshire County Council and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to improve the town centre environment for all users, by reducing the vehicle conflicts that currently occur in some areas and improving the environment for those travelling on foot and by bike.

The first phase will see the creation of a new public space at Stonehills’ northern end, with added seating, planting and new trees to provide an ideal meeting spot and location for outdoor events.

The layout of the parking bays along Stonehills will be reconfigured to improve the footways for pedestrians and reduce vehicle congestion issues.

The second phase will start in 2022 and includes enhancing pedestrian crossing points and improving paving and road layouts on Wigmores North, Howardsgate, Fretherne Road and Parkway.

The area will be covered by a new 20mph zone that will be supported by traffic management measures to help reduce speeds.

Following several engagement events with local residents, businesses and taxi trade, the taxi rank will remain in place along Howardsgate and Fretherne Road. Work to widen a small section of the road directly outside the Howard Centre is included as part of phase two.

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Councillor Phil Bibby, executive member for highways and environment at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “We recognise the future of our high streets is changing, even more so with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Pedestrian and cycle-friendly shopping environments are more pleasant places to spend time – they encourage healthier travel, reduce pollution and create community spaces that are both economically and socially valuable.”

Cllr Stephen Boulton, executive member for environment and planning at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, said: “This project will ensure Welwyn Garden City is well-placed to respond to future shopping and leisure habits.

"As more of us enjoy socialising outdoors – a trend that has accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic – the work will connect a new public space with Anniversary Gardens, transforming the area into an attractive, vibrant meeting place where local business can thrive.”

The phase one works are expected to take around six months with measures in place to minimise disruption to local businesses.

Further information is available at hertfordshire.gov.uk/wgctowncentre.

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