Hart of the Matter
of magicians before, and I’ve marvelled at Dynamo, but these consultants that
have been brought in to facilitate the town masterplan must really be something
Not only are
we now pretty confident that they can solve the pedestrianisation issue which
has bedevilled Haverhill town centre for the best part of 50 years, but we now
also seem to think they can come up with a solution about what to do with the
Gurteens site, which has been intractable for almost as long.
beginning to wonder what other rabbits they can pull out of their corporate top
hat. How about a new site for the sewage works? – sorry, maybe that’s out of
the town centre.
about the railway? Could they deliver that? Oh no, I’ve just remembered they were
nearly asked about that last week, thinly veiled under questioning about the
A1307, and they said all the masterplan could do about infrastructure was to
lend ammunition to campaigns to improve it.
they can find a way of joining up the disparate bits of the town centre –
Tesco, the cinema complex, the high street, etc – fragments thrown about
willy-nilly by the borough council in the past.
they’ve talked about the Stour Brook. A watercourse, they say, is a boon to any
town centre. Remember, there was some interesting stuff about the Stour Brook
in the 2005 masterplan – a shallow lake, I seem to recall, somewhere between
Jubilee Walk car park and the fire station.
If they come
up with something similar again, although not exactly new, it might re-inforce
the idea in the minds of the borough council. And before you envisage shopping
trolleys semi-submerged within it like Scapa Flow with tide out, remember that
we are to be positive about this plan, and not negative.
The idea is
easy, it’s the financing of it that is difficult, not to mention how you keep
it looking nice when the flow of the brook tends to be governed by the needs of
anglers upstream at West Town Flood Park.
are regurgitating past ideas, the consultants might (and I’m sorry to keep
repeating myself) return to Sir Frederick Gibberd’s 1970 masterplan and
reconsider the southern rear service road.
If they are
going to come down in favour of pedesrianisation, I can’t see that there is any
other lasting solution, and even if they are not, it has to be a massive
benefit to everyone in the town centre anyway.
provide, if it was done properly, what they seem to see as a crucial element in
improving the town centre, a proper entrance. Arrival via the current Ehringshausen
Way is, as they point out, pretty dismal.
know where the town centre is and you seem, particularly if you arrive by bus,
to have been dumped in the middle of nowhere. You are most likely to head off
towards Prezzo as the only signs of civilisation.
more, several of the ideas which came out of the last consultation day held by
Suffolk County Council, envisaged reducing traffic flow in Ehringshausen Way
and trying to join the town centre across from high street to the leisure
something new and, I thought, quite exciting. I can remember meetings going
back to the 1980s when people bemoaned the fact that Haverhill had one long
high street, and said it needed broadening.
This was why
the pathetic compromise the planners came up with over the development of the Chauntry
Centre was such a disaster. If you remember, the developers of the former Cleales
garage site in the high street wanted to create a shopping precinct leading up
to the top of Quakers Lane.
Ex-Servicemen’s Club was prepared to move, down to about where the cinema car
park is now, but the borough council acceded to objections on the grounds that
it would impede the javelin throw at the sports centre so the plan fell through.
line of shops, including Woolworths, now Iceland, was built, which still calls
itself the Chauntry Centre for no perceptible reason to the contemporary eye.
round we need, as I said last week, Aspiration, with a capital ‘A’, and
Boldness, with a capital ‘B’ to carry it out.
access road should be built from the Cangle roundabout through the car parks,
the Bull garden, Mill Road and the back of Gurteens, the Cleales and town hall
car parks, the Wisdom allotments and onto Hollands Road, thus to the bypass
(and maybe the railway station), and allowing newly designed spurs into the
town centre car parks and newly designed approaches into the high street – and incidentally
taking all but the most local traffic out of Hamlet Road and that conservation
area of the town.
Ehringshausen Way could become just an access road to the north side of the
town centre from each direction, and the space between it and the high street
could be redeveloped for shopping, with perhaps a car park underneath or on
top. The brook could be incorporated as an attractive central feature, with a
lake, if you will.
The backs of
the high street premises could be hidden by new development, perhaps angled more
towards the needs of town centres of the future – leisure, display, and general
sounds Utopian and impossible, of course, but we are confident that the
consultants can solve pedestrianisation and Gurteens in six months, so it
shouldn’t be beyond the powers of their magic wand.