Hucknall is another step closer to seeing the town centre Masterplan come to life and become a reality with the end of the nine month consultation period.
There have been roadshows, display boards, meetings and market stalls with plans, drawings, artists impressions and planning officers available for the public to access the information and see for themselves what the scheme is all about.
Hundreds of people have seen what the scheme promises to give the town and many have given their feedback. But yesterday marked the end of the road for residents, businesses and agencies to express their comments, objections, views and opinions on the scheme which will see an inner bypass built and part of High Street pedestrianised.
The aim of the Masterplan scheme is to regenerate the town centre by cutting the traffic from the main shopping area, and redirecting it through the new bypass which will run parallel to High Street.
Funding for the £12 million scheme will be provided from three sources.Central Government will put the largest chunk in the pot with £8m,
Nottinghamshire County Council will top it up with £2.65m and Ashfield District Council will complete the transaction with £1.35m.
The new road will start at the corner of Annesley Road and Baker Street and will be almost a quarter of a mile long stretching through Titchfield Street, Woollaton Street, Albert Street part of the Thoresby Dale area and coming out through the Station Road car park. Traffic lights will be installed at the Linby Road/Station Road/Ashgate Road junction.
A new bus hub/interchange will also be created from Albert Street to High Street. Part of the plan also includes new cycle lanes, trees and landscaping.
The scheme has provoked mixed reactions from residents, councillors and business owners with many confident the plan will breathe new life into the town whilst others remain sceptical.
It has been many years in the making and a topic much debated but now with the end of the consultation, it is expected the decision whether to rubber stamp the planning application or not will be made by the planning committee at Nottinghamshire County Council in October.
Adjustments made to the original scheme
Over the many months of the consultation period, a number of objections have been raised officially which has prompted the project manager to assess the comments and in some areas make adjustments to the original plans.
However in others, despite looking at alternative solutions, planners have stuck with their first concept.
Paul Horn, principal project manager at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We’ve made a few minor amendments to the proposals for the Hucknall improvement scheme, following comments raised during the planning consultation earlier this year.”
Adjustments and alterations have been made to the Baker Lane Brook after discussions with the Environment Agency, English Heritage and Nottinghamshire County Council’s own historic buildings conservation officer.
“Changes include reducing the length of proposed new culverts and opening up some existing culverts along Baker Brook to improve water quality and encourage wildlife after discussions with the Environment Agency,” explained Mr Horn. “We will also be creating a footpath adjacent to a section of the Brook near Baker Street to open up views of the area following dialogue with English Heritage,”
In order for the new road to be built at the corner of Annesley Road and Baker Street, plans included demolishing old buildings. This prompted English Heritage to ask for an alternative as a way of protecting the ‘setting’ that these buildings currently create.
“However, it is not always possible to incorporate all changes and our proposal to demolish buildings at 22-26 Baker Street to create a new traffic junction have remained in place,” added Mr Horn. “This is because the alternative arrangements considered would not have met requirements for traffic capacity and safety.”
Reactions from townsfolk, councillors and the MP
Sheila Robinson, treasurer of Hucknall Tourism and Regeneration Group
“Since being told we can have the money I just wish a decision will finally be made over the scheme. They have messed around for too long and it’s now time to just get on with it. Whatever the final decision they will upset some people but it’s time to get started so we can move on.”
Chris Thorne, chairman of the I Love Hucknall town centre team
“We want the scheme to commence as soon as possible and finally put this sorry saga to bed. It seems to have taken an awful long time with too many delays. The scheme is still half-hearted in my opinion, as I would have preferred to have the full length of the High Street pedestrianised, and the combination of buses and pedestrians will never mix.”
Leader of Ashfield District Council, Coun Chris Baron
“The district council have contributed over £1 million to the scheme to make the town centre vibrant and prosperous. It is hoped the scheme, once finished, will attract other major retailers and we have already received enquiries which are dependent on completion.
“The visual impact of the pedestrianised area has got to be pleasing on the eye because if it doesn’t look good people won’t visit.”
Mark Spencer, MP for Sherwood.
“I hope Nottinghamshire County Council take on board people’s comments. On the whole this scheme has to be part of a more strategic plan for the town centre and it has to include free parking. It’s no good making it a nice place to shop and then charging for the privilege. They also need to make sure that it still looks appealing. The landlords have a responsibility to be realistic with their rents as well. It’s better to not charge any rent and have the rates paid rather than leave a shop empty.”