27th Jan, 2021

New report says Redditch town centre is now ‘at risk’

Ross Crawford 11th Dec, 2020

REDDITCH’S historic town centre has been declared ‘at risk’ following a study by the Borough Council.

The report, a management plan on the town centre conservation area, was delivered to the authority’s executive committee on Tuesday evening.

It detailed a host of issues in the area around St Stephen’s Church, which contains a number of historic buildings.

These include cars parking around the church and in Evesham Walk at the top of Unicorn Hill, the poor state of shop fronts, the number of vacant properties, and the poor state of ‘the public realm’ – pavements, street furniture and the like.

Despite this Council Leader Matt Dormer said the report also provides ‘a massive opportunity’ to improve and enhance the centre for years to come while officers said there was nothing that was insurmountable for the council to address.

The conservation area covers Church Green East and West and Market Place but also the top of Alcester Street, the start of Peakman Street, Church Road, William Street, Unicorn Hill and Bates Hill.

Suggestions to improve the area include bringing in Traffic Regulation Orders to stop parking in Evesham Walk, finding alternatives to parking around the church, encouraging shopkeepers to upgrade their shopfronts and using money from the £25million Town Fund bid to tackle the vacant unit issue.

Members also heard that public realm improvements are in the pipeline, extending the block paving from Alcester Street across the centre.

“This is a massive opportunity,” said Coun Dormer (Con, West).

“This will be the key to protect the town centre – I am a massive supporter of this.”

Coun Craig Warhurst (Con, Astwood Bank and Feckenham) said: “I genuinely believe this pushes forward our plans to unlock Redditch.”

However Coun Bill Hartnett (Lab, Church Hill) said there needed to be a full list of costed priorities.

“We need to be ambitious and we need to have a clear vision. But we also need a clear plan and a costed plan depending on how much money we get so we know what we want to do and people know what we want to do.”

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