Welwyn Garden City town centre might be pedestrianised, county council confirms
PUBLISHED: 08:41 10 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:15 10 May 2017
Welwyn Garden City's town centre could potentially be pedestrianised after it emerged the county council will hold a public consultation on the issue this summer.
A County Hall spokeswoman confirmed traffic could potentially be banned from “central areas, including Howardsgate and central Parkway”, and public opinion will be sought in June or July.
The plans sparked mixed reactions from residents, with some voicing fears over parking while others trumpeted the potential openness.
Diane Leach, 54, of WGC’s Knightsfield, said: “Pedestrianisation would be the best thing they could do for this town.
“Some people wait ages [to cross the road] with walking sticks and wheelchairs. I’m all in favour for it.
“This pedestrianisation would give us a lot of freedom, and I think parents especially would feel a lot more relaxed bringing their children out.”
WGC’s Marjorie Page added: “I just think pedestrianisation will be a good idea.
“It always looks lovely anyway with flowers around and the trees, it would be nice not to have parked cars all round.”
However, several residents pointed to local traffic “already bursting at the seams”, and questioned what impact the move might have on surrounding areas.
Lorna James, 71, of Digswell Road, said: “I do not think it’s a good idea at all.
“Where is all the traffic going to go? Where are people going to park their cars if they want a short stay? What are the buses going to do?
“There are an awful lot of people who park down there, nip and do their shopping, and then come back out.
“I think they will go elsewhere.”
Lorna’s husband Peter, a retired accountant, added: “If you look down here all the time, every day those car park spaces are used, so where are the people going to go?”
Details of the plans have not yet been finalised, but joint owner of Howardsgate’s CeX, William Scholes, said if anything they would be positive for business.
“I guess it’s good because it will drive footfall and it might encourage the council to sort out the parking,” he added. “People consistently complain about the parking around here.”
The move could potentially impact Stonehills and part of Fretherne Road, which currently has a taxi rank on it.
WGC cabbie Ken Norris said he would welcome pedestrianisation provided taxis were given exemption, but claimed he did not know where they would be “shoved” if they weren’t.
Welwyn Hatfield Chamber of Commerce chairman, Nick Brown, added: “I have not seen the pedestrianisation plans as yet, but if you stop people parking outside local shops, they won’t shop there.
“The Red Routes in London, aimed at reducing congestion, caused a 20 per cent drop in turnover for local shops, thereby destroying local communities.”
Rob Smith, the county council’s deputy director for environment, said the local authority was looking to enhance WGC town centre for residents and businesses.
“To this end we are working closely with Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to develop initial ideas for the town centre,” he added.
“We will be carrying out consultations with local businesses and residents about redevelopment plans in June/July, after the general election.”