Hart of the Matter
week’s exciting first instalment in the new series of Master Plan: The
Continuing Saga, you may remember how the astonishing revelation that we could
get a new town square down Jubilee Walk was probably the biggest new theme to
there were others which, after a week or two to mull over their significance,
are beginning to look as though they may lead to some quite dramatic plot developments
later in the piece.
instance, there was the idea for redevelopment of the Wisdom site, coupled with
some new building on the Town Hall Arts Centre Car Park, aimed at providing a ‘corner’
– an architectural feature within town planning which is referred to again and
again in the draft document.
was the return of two-way traffic in Swan Lane, and the possibility of linking
through from Lower Downs Slade to join with it – or more accurately, one
supposes, with Camps Road.
was the development at the rear of Argos and Peacocks, and including the land
behind the former Bell pub, which is all part of creating a better setting for
the Stour Brook, so that it can become the asset to the town which it ought to
these ideas has a little caveat at the end of it, which turns into a mantra if
you have been reading the document long enough. It is to the effect that each
idea would have to be developed in conjunction with St Edmundsbury Borough
Council’s proposed review of car parking in the borough.
The reason is
obvious. Each of these ideas would result in a loss of car parking spaces - in
the case of the new town square quite a lot of car parking spaces, and a fair
few from the arts centre car park.
makes no suggestions as to where the new parking spaces to replace these would
be located. That, presumably, is the borough’s problem.
I suppose an
outsider taking a quick overview of the town might take note of the fact that
the cinema car park and the former Cleales site car park are rarely fully-used.
I say rarely to hedge my bets a bit. I have never seen either of them anywhere
thought the whole point of the new town centre masterplan was to create a more
viable town centre offer which would attract a lot more people to Haverhill. That’s
not going to work if they can’t park anywhere.
has always been a curious issue in Haverhill. New car parks have been provided
in the most unlikely and completely useless places, or in places without any
thought of how they can be effectively linked to where people might want to go.
car park is a prime example. It costs to park there and it is further away from
the cinema than the end of the Tesco car park by Reeds Lane, where it is free
for three hours. So, unless you are planning to see a film directed by Peter
Jackson or Martin Scorsese, you can comfortably park there for nothing. The
same applies if you are eating at Prezzo or Frankie and Benny’s.
is the Cleales car park which could, and should, have been the most popular
place to park in Haverhill. The car park was always created with the eventual
aim of St Edmundsbury Borough Council being able to build on the arts centre
car park and realise a load of cash.
But it could
only be of any use if there as a walkway through to the high street from there.
As it stands you either have to traipse down through Quakers Lane and then back
up the street, or else walk back to the arts centre car park, in which case it’s
a lot simpler to just park there in the first place.
no effort was made by the council to make deal with the landlord for Woolworth’s (as it was then) to have a back
entrance of the kind one sees in so many towns, and which benefits everyone as
shoppers walk through to the main street.
Woolworth’s packed up and Iceland came along, the borough seem to have made no
effort to broach the idea again when it came to planning applications.
they will wave around vaguely the claims that the land ownership in that area
is impossibly complex. That just shows a lack of real intent to get something
done. I cannot believe it was beyond the wit and resources of the council to
In fact, I
can’t see the point of the council’s role in any of this masterplan process if it
can’t achieve these sorts of enabling projects.
of this masterplan, when it is finalised, is going to depend on exactly this
sort of issue being dealt with – for instance all the little alleyways from the
Jubilee Walk car park to the high street.
The draft document
is strong on getting these improved to make the approach to the town centre more
attractive to visitors – although, if most of that car park is going to be
given over to a town square, that issue might not be as important as it
currently appears, even though the bus station will still be there.
That is just
the sort of unjoined-up stuff that you can still find in the document, for all
that in other areas it joins up ideas quite well.
the full scope of the masterplan will not even be apparent when it is
finalised, but will need to wait for the borough’s review of car parking.