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Latest discussions 'getting a grip' of town centre needs

Thursday, 21st November 2013.

Members of Haverhill Area Working Party were today given a glimpse of the work ONE Haverhill is doing behind closed doors to create a masterplan for the town centre.

ONE Haverhill has taken on the task and its board met last week to make a start, also making the decision to continue keeping its meetings closed to the public.

But the working party, a group from St Edmundsbury Borough Council which is open to the public, will be updated regularly on progress.

They were told the initial meeting identified factors which, in other towns, drew pople to visit them, and how such factors could be developed in Haverhill.

Among issues around Haverhill town centre which they flagged up were:
* Visitors arrive at the rear of everything, for instance at the bus station, and in Jubilee Walk or the Arts Centre car parks;
* There are few visual cues as to where to go for facilities;
* The connection to the town centre is via alleyways rather than pleasant lanes.

However, it was felt the town centre did have good focal points in St Mary's Church and the market square, and it had builfdings which were appealing if the eyes of visitors could be drawn upward, above the shop fronts.

It was decided it would be possible to celebrate what was beautiful about Haverhill.

The next steps would be:
* To identify what the unique appeal of Haverhill should be in 2031;
* To envisage the future shape and size of the town centre, which would also enclose some residential properties which are currently around its edge;
* To seek a good mix of retail and office use;
* To consider future use of the Stour Brook;
* To consider how to reduce the barrtier effect of Ehringshausen Way.

Working party members welcomed the approaches outlined and pointed out the stark contrast with the recent report from a 'stakeholder session' run by consultants at a cost of 10,500 on behalf of Suffolk County Council, which produced no recommndations at all.

Cllr Anne Gower said: "I found it very frustrating that the report makes no recommendations. There was nothing in it that we didn't already know. It's just repeating the cycle."

Cllr Pat Hanlon said he completely agreed and the consultants' work had been 'a waste of taxpayers' money'.

Town clerk Will Austin said he found the findings of the report 'brief and woolly', and wanted to know where the 10,500 cost had come from, hoping it was not out of money already earmarked to improve the town centre.

But he said the town council was pleased the ONE Haverhill discussions appeared to be getting a grip of what was required and looking at how Haverhill town centre might expand over the next 20 years.

"This is an opportunity to get away from the argument about pedestrianisation," he said. "If the main shopping area becomes elsewhere, maybe Ehringshausen Way, there could be a rethink over that issue."

Haverhill Online News

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