Colchester High Street

I’ve received the following press release from Colchester Borough Council and Essex County Council, which I’m quoting in full here.

A way forward has been reached on the implementation of Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) to improve Colchester Town Centre.

Following a thorough review of the responses received during the public consultation held in spring 2012, experimental orders will now be introduced from Sunday 17 March 2013. Using an experimental order allows flexibility to react to any issues that arise following the introduction of the order.

The experimental orders incorporate changes to the original TROs advertised, following comments from residents, business, transport operators and user groups.

The main changes to town centre access will still relate to the High Street with access restrictions introduced on neighbouring streets including Head Street and North Hill. Access to the High Street for all cars and delivery vehicles will now only be restricted between 11am and 6pm, rather than the previously proposed 10am.

Access to the High Street for all will remain before 11am and after 6pm, seven days a week. More options for Blue Badge parking will be available where it is safe to do so at the eastern end of the High Street as loading restrictions will now only apply between Head Street and St Nicholas Street.

Licensed private hire vehicles will be added to the list of vehicles with full access to the High Street, supporting the range of sustainable travel options for journeys to the town.

Careful planning will minimise disruption for businesses and everyone accessing the town centre whilst on-street works take place. The new Town Centre access arrangements will be monitored for one year, if it is deemed successful then steps will be taken to make the scheme permanent.

The TROs are part of the Better Town Centre programme, a partnership project between Colchester Borough Council and Essex County Council, which aims to improve and prepare a rapidly growing Colchester for a positive and resilient future.

The improvements are designed to enhance the environment for shoppers, boosting the town’s vitality and economic prosperity. Air quality at key locations will also be improved, along with the reliability of public transport and the operation of the town’s new bus station in Osborne Street/ Stanwell Street. The changes will also support future planned transport projects, including Park and Ride in Colchester.

County Councillor Derrick Louis, Cabinet Member for Highways & Transportation said: “Following our review of the consultation responses, I am pleased that we will now be implementing these experimental orders. We are committed to working with our partners at Colchester Borough Council to deliver improvements that benefit all town centre users.”

Colchester Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Renaissance, Councillor Lyn Barton said: “The Council is pleased proposals to help reduce congestion and improve the environment will now be implemented.

“Having worked with Essex County Council to address the feedback from town centre users I am extremely pleased that access for blue badge holders and deliveries has now been changed to 11am. These revised plans will support the town’s new bus station and help deliver a better town centre for all.”

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I spent several cold hours out in Colchester last Saturday night as part of the Castle Ward night of action. Since I’ve been a councillor, I’ve been out in the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights several times to see what happens there, and I know that the issue of the night-time economy is something that generates lots of opinions in lots of different quarters, so here’s a few of my thoughts on it.

These are based mainly on my experience and knowledge of Colchester and they’re not intended to be definitive pronouncements – I’d welcome any comments or discussion people want to add in the comments. There’s a whole lot of other issues tied up in the night-time economy, but I can’t going into full detail on everything, because this is a blog post and not a book!

Read the rest of this entry

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Town Centre consultations

Just a quick post to let you know about two consultations going on in Colchester this week.

First, some of the Better Town Centre ideas – including the creation of a car-free High Street – are on display this week. They’re in a shop in Red Lion Yard during this week, and will also be on a market stall on Friday. You can also respond online to the survey until November 30th.

Also, Cycle Colchester are looking for public comments on plans to improve cycle access to the town centre via Crouch Street. They’ll be in Crouch Street on Friday and Saturday for you to give your opinions, and you can also see the plans and comment on them online until November 29th.

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The Hidden Kiosks

Just a little plug for the Hidden Kiosks, a project that Colchester Council is running with the help of the Creative Co-Op and 15 Queen Street to provide an opportunity for new businesses and to brighten up a bit of the town centre.

Put simply, we’re offering people the chance to operate from the two disused kiosks at the bus station doing pretty much whatever you like, as long as you can convince the judges (which include me) it’s a good idea. For more information, check out the website and download an application form. It doesn’t matter how wild and crazy your idea is – everything will be considered, and we want to see just what can be achieved there.

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Town Centre reminder

Just a quick reminder to anyone who’s seen this Colchester Gazette story on the ideas for Colchester Town Centre. The plans, and other Town Centre issues, are being discussed at tonight’s meeting of the Council’s Policy Review and Development Panel, which starts at 6pm in the Grand Jury Room of the Town Hall.

I’ll try and post a report about the meeting tonight, if there are interesting details to report.


Those of you with an interest in Colchester Town Centre may be interested to know that it will be the main topic of discussion at the next Policy Review and Development Panel meeting on Wednesday 23rd September. We’ll be discussing the Council’s public realm strategy, a draft lighting strategy for the town centre, and some of the interim findings of the Task and Finish Group looking at the night time economy.

Remember that any member of the public can have their say on an item of the agenda, but you’ll need to be at the meeting at the start to register. It’s at 6pm in the Grand Jury room of the Town Hall, so will be straight after the Castle NAP meeting…which means I’ll have to hot-foot it from one to the other, as I’m a member of both.


November is the busiest month

Had a Policy Review and Development Panel meeting tonight, which is a Council committee I quite like being on as it tends to achieve things – even if they are small – and the meetings don’t drag on for hours. More information on everything we discussed here, if you’re interested, including our rather lengthy Tree Policy. Yes, you are allowed to question how many trees were sacrificed to print copies of the policy.

But, the most important thing coming out of there is that it looks as though November will be a busy month, especially for me, as not only is the waste consultation – and I might write a long blog post about that sometime- now scheduled to happen then, but we should also be having another consultation about town centre developments, including the whole question of St Botolph’s and the bus station. Should be interesting, just a question of making sure we have proper consultations, not the usual ‘Do you agree with all our suggestions? Yes/Hell Yes’ type of one, or the Essex County Council-style one, where you consult, get 4,000 responses that disagree with you and then ignore them in favour of the ‘silent majority’.

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