As you might remember, a few days ago I mentioned a petition organised by Suzy Davies AM (Con, South Wales West) and 2016 Assembly Conservative candidate for Bridgend, George Jabbour, on pedestrianisation in Bridgend town centre.
Last week they launched the petition. You can sign online here if you wish, though it’s said that a paper form has been distributed to Bridgend’s retailers. It calls for Bridgend Council to:
- Take immediate steps to reverse pedestrianisation on Queen Street, Dunraven Place and Market Street.
- Permit on-street parking in the area described.
Suzy said in a statement on her website :
“BCBC needs to admit that it got things wrong and open up the town once again. People need to be able to reach the shops and services they need easily. Fears about gridlock, expressed by the council in the past, are misplaced because there is no through route so only people with business in town will drive in.
“Bridgend has just received another tranche of regeneration funding – £5m from the Vibrant and Viable Places programme. Previous regeneration funds of more than £10m have been squandered on pedestrianisation. The council must now ensure that this scheme really does benefit shoppers and traders alike.”
It should be relatively straight-forward to reintroduce traffic again as the infrastructure is already in place. The route hasn’t been 100% pedestrianised and retains a roadway in the middle. Loading bays have also been provided which could be converted to short-stay parking bays. It’s worth adding that pedestrianisation is currently only enforced during trading hours – 10am-6pm – so traffic already uses the route.I have no real problem with this and, on paper, it sounds like common sense.
BCBC would need to change traffic orders, replace signs and put in new road markings. There would probably have to be a mandatory 20mph speed limit too.
My only concerns are that the Queen Street entrance is narrow, plus even a small amount of traffic compared to pre-pedestrianisation days could lead to traffic jams.
I don’t particularly like the idea of people parking for long periods of time in the already rather small parking bays either, hence why they should be short-stay only – i.e. to drop people off. I doubt it would take very long for traders to complain that cars are blocking deliveries, while a reintroduction of on-street parking would require the regular presence of civil enforcement officers to prevent abuse.
As I also mentioned last time around – and it needs repeating – Bridgend Council are reviewing pedestrianisation, though this petition may put pressure on them to consider traders’ concerns.
St John’s House Heritage Hub Plans
A planning application has been submitted to turn the Grade II listed St John’s House on Newcastle Hill into a heritage hub. St John’s House is reportedly the oldest secular building in Bridgend town, being at least 500-600 years old.
St John’s House Trust recently held an open doors day as part of a Cadw initiative which was well-received, and since the first open doors event was held in 2012, some 2,000 people have visited the building.
There’ve been numerous well-intentioned projects for the building down the years, but this is the most serious attempt at renovating the building to date. The plans have been backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund to the tune of £69,000, which has enabled the St John’s House Trust to begin the process of buying the property.
The building is currently owned by a Trust based in St Albans who are said to be happy ownership to be passed on. The lottery grant is described as “first-round” support, so further funding will come later down the line – a figure of £640,000 is mentioned on the lottery website.
The plans will involve a full restoration of the existing building and the construction of new rear extension (to provide a lift to upper floors). As it lies within the Newcastle Conservation Area the restoration and extension will need to be sensitive.
Internally, the building will include local history rooms, a cafe, interpretive exhibits, facilities for schools and office space. Disability-friendly facilities will also be provided, while the whole building will be brought up to 21st century standards – including the complete removal of the roof stone-by-stone to allow insulation and weatherproofing to be installed.
It’s expected the development, if it goes ahead, will create 6 part-time jobs.