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By Dan Santy Wednesday 14 November 2012 Updated: 22/11 09:01
NEW plans for a radical pedestrianisation of the town centre have surfaced two years after they were shelved due to the high cost.
First touted in 2008, the scheme was intended to fully pedestrianise the roads around Church Street and North Street, creating a piazza area around the clock tower in a bid to make the town centre a more attractive shopping and leisure destination.
But in the face of costs of over £2 million, along with fears of traffic problems on roads used as diversions, the plans were put on hold two years ago for alternatives to be considered.
This time around, they are being proposed but with buses, taxis and bicycles still allowed to drive through what would be a single carriageway controlled by traffic lights.
The taxi rank would be moved to the east side of North Street near Evreux Way, while the bus stop outside William Hill would be sited next to the existing one on Church Street outside HSBC.
Improvements would be made to the gyratory to cope with the increased demand along Lawrence Sheriff Street, as well as new traffic calming measures on Park Road, Manor Road, Lancaster Road and Wood Street.
The changes would slash the previous costs in half to around the £1 million mark.
But the scheme is still not without its controversies. If carried out as suggested, it would mean Rugby's street market would have to be moved, along with a likely increase in traffic from Clifton Road diverting through Rugby's independent shopping quarter on Regent Street.
Sustainable Rugby chairman, Coun Neil Sandison, said: "We're pleased on the whole, but we're still not happy that extra traffic will be diverted along Rugby's independent shopping quarter.
"It's always been said niche shopping should be the attractive thing about coming to Rugby. But if the amount of traffic stops people going to the independent shops, it could badly damage trade in the town centre."
Instead Sustainable Rugby is proposing opening up the whole of Albert Street to two-way traffic. As a wider road with direct access to the John Barford car park, this would make more sense according to the pressure group.
On the need to move the market, Coun Sandison said: "I doubt the street traders will like it. But it doesn't mean Rugby has to lose its street market, and we wouldn't want to."
He went on to suggest the market could be moved further up to where Sheep Street and Chapel Street meet.
Coun Sandison added it could help increase the number of people on Chapel Street, and in turn encourage more businesses to set up in some of the empty units there.
If given the green light, the pedestrianisation would be jointly funded by Rugby Borough and Warwickshire County councils.
A public consultation exercise will take place over the coming months.
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