Natural stone paving, new seating, trees and a performance space will refresh the High Street when work begins this summer.
The designs, which are now well advanced, will go on public exhibition in March. They will replace the existing mix of concrete and tarmac infill with new natural stone paving across the full width of the street, creating a flat comfortable walking area with improved surface drainage. The new paving will be complimented by raised beds, planted with large trees and shrubs and incorporating new seating and other street furniture. Additionally two new areas for events and performances will be created to support changing, seasonal activities in this part of the town.
The improvements will initially be focussed on the High Street between Rodney Road and Cambray Place and plans are linked as closely as possible to the opening of the new John Lewis store later in the year. Investment of £725,000 has been agreed by Cheltenham Borough Council and Gloucestershire County Council with some additional financial support being provided by the European Structural and Investment Fund.
Councillor Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety said: ‘’Together with the county council and our partners, we are committed to enhancing the attractiveness of Cheltenham town centre. This will boost the town’s economic vitality, making it the place of choice for new businesses and investors. Importantly, we want to create a space which can be enjoyed by all those who live, work and visit here.’’
Councillor Vernon Smith, county council cabinet member for highways and flood at Gloucestershire County Council added: “The county council is proud to be supporting Cheltenham Borough Council and businesses in Cheltenham. We know how important street scene can be to shops, businesses and residents alike. This is why we always work closely with district councils to help them deliver improvements, like in this scheme. We’ve offered over 10 years of maintenance funding in advance to support Cheltenham Borough’s scheme – as well as over £25,000 in specialist staff time to date.”
Kevan Blackadder, director of Cheltenham BID said: “Cheltenham High Street has been in a poor state for too long and we’re delighted to see this significant investment happening. The BID will continue to highlight the need for similar work to be carried out either side of the initial area, to ensure we have a High Street fit for our wonderful town.”
The borough council and its partners are hoping to see work beginning on future phases once further funding is agreed, looking first at Cambray Place itself and the section of High Street from Cambray Place to Bath Road. The final section, from Winchcombe Street to Rodney Road will follow the outcome of the trial closure of Boots Corner which forms part of the Cheltenham Transport Plan.
Different sections of the streets will have slightly different designs to add to the visual interest and variety and make use of the varying amount of space available.