Braintree District Council secure budget for improvements to town centres

Witham and Halstead town centres public realm improvements have been revealed as part of the budget

Witham and Halstead town centres are set to benefit from improved signage and modernised street furniture, thanks to over £745,000 of funding secured by Braintree District Council. 

Braintree District Council (BDC) announced the investment of £746,192 on improvements to both town centres, after councillors approved the budget for the project at a meeting of Braintree District Council’s Full Council on Monday 22nd February. 

The new funding means the Council can address and deliver the final improvement recommendations highlighted in the town centre strategy, which was commissioned by Braintree District Council and supported by the local town councils. Other recommendations in the strategy, including improved footpath access, green space connection and events strategies, have either already been completed, in the process of being delivered, or have been outside of BDC’s control to deliver. 

The improvements include refurbishment of street furniture and street lighting, improvements to cycle parking, signage, road markings and paving repairs - all to create a more attractive and functional environment and improve pedestrian journey. 

Other specific improvements to Witham include increased open space, subject to feasibility, in Newland Street and Guithavon Street to allow space for markets and events in the centre of the town, as well as installation of new cycle racks supporting our plan to improve cycling facilities across the District. 

Braintree District Council is contributing £575,486 of its budget into the project, with £170,706 received through S106 contributions, subject to consultation with town councils. 

Councillor Tom Cunningham, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure, at Braintree District Council said: “We have been always remained committed to improving both town centres and have been working closely with representatives from the town councils over the past few months to develop these plans. By providing new and clear signage, information and refurbishments throughout the town, we hope that it will help improve the experience of visitors to all the key assets, services and shops that the towns have to offer. Witham and Halstead are fantastic towns and we are keen to support the social and economic recovery of them both as we bounce back from COVID.” 

Mayor and Chairman of Halstead Town Council, Councillor Mick Radley said: “I’m really pleased, excited and welcome the prospect of these improvements to the town centre in Halstead. This investment provides the much needed opportunity to upgrade parts of the High Street, to enhance the heritage appearance and provide some additional facilities. We look forward to engaging with Councillor Cunningham and officers to deliver these projects in the coming weeks." 

Councillor Kev Atwill, Chair of the Town Centre Regeneration group, Witham Town Council said: “I’m delighted to hear the budget for the Town Centre improvements have been approved. This is an example where healthy dialog with BDC can lead to positive outcomes for Witham. Coupled with the imminent upgrade to the Town Park these improvements will bring a fresh look to the Town Centre area. I look forward to working with BDC to deliver further progress for Witham.” 

The next phase of the project will be to discuss and agree design masterplans with partners including local town councils and Essex Highways and engage with residents and businesses, with plans to start construction work later this year. 

Published: 24th February 2021