Council to discuss plans to bring forward pedestrianisation of Braintree town centre

Council to discuss plans to bring forward pedestrianisation of Braintree town centre

Plans for pedestrianisation of Braintree town centre, which has received widespread support from the public, are set to be considered at a meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday 18th December.

The proposals address the Council’s plans to invest in improvements to the town centre, including pedestrianisation of Market Place, Great Square and most of the High Street, long-term improvements to the roads and pavements and public space enhancements. Braintree District Council has led a series of negotiations with Essex County Council and Department of Transport and is also providing match funding. If successful, the scheme will be an investment of over £2.5million to provide a transformation to the town centre.

This comes after the results of a consultation last year asking what residents and businesses thoughts about pedestrianisation showed 76 per cent of 1,583 responses supported the scheme. Those that supported the scheme highlighted benefits it could provide including safety, improvements to public space, and retail and event opportunities.

The bid for additional funding was submitted to the Department for Transport on the 31st October and a decision is expected at the end of December. Investment from Essex County Council, who manage the highway, to support the scheme has already been promised.

Braintree District Council has been looking into detailed design and infrastructure options with partners and stakeholders, including Essex County Council. Talks with businesses and public transport companies are continuing to carefully plan details around access for shop deliveries, emergency service vehicles and highway impact, including bus travel if approved.

Cllr Tom Cunningham, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure at Braintree District Council, said: “Pedestrianisation is something Braintree District Council has been working on for some time, and with town centres changing nationally, we need to start thinking differently on how we can make Braintree a destination people want to visit that attracts investment. If approved, it will enable much-needed highway improvements and compliment the regeneration investment already underway like the Manor Street development and the street markets, but also allow the opportunity to create a high quality, multi-purpose space for more events and enhance the appeal and characteristic of the town.”

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Essex County Council, said: “I await the outcome of the DfT Challenge Fund bid with anticipation as it supports our collective ambitions for Braintree High Street and the adjacent areas of the town centre and unlocking the economic potential of the town centre.

“We continue to work in partnership with Braintree District Council (BDC) to improve the town centre and as part of our ongoing devolution ambition we support BDC in taking this forward.”

If approved, a seven week public consultation will be held from 20th December for residents and businesses to find out more about what the scheme could look like including drop in sessions, with a full programme of works planned from 2020.

The proposals will be discussed at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 18th December for final approval.