Letchworth residents comment on town centre plans

RESIDENTS have had the chance to share their views on plans for the long-term future of Letchworth town centre.

The final consultation stage for The Wynd started on Saturday as Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation revealed its preferred option.

The plan is to create ‘The Wynd Village’ with a garden centre theme and incorporating shops, cafes, restaurants, housing and more parking.

The Comet visited the exhibition at the Community Hub in Station Road on Monday to gage reaction to the scheme, which can be commented on until June 8.

Letchworth GC residents Ron and Lesley Hewitt both backed the plans.

Mr Hewitt said: “I think it’s very nice and in keeping with the garden city. One thing that needs to change is that you don’t know it’s there. You need to bring people into it more.”

The project, which would be implemented in stages over the next five years if it gets the go-ahead, would also see current businesses located in The Wynd remain.

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“We think it’s very positive,” said Aly Keenan, owner of Aly’s Diner.

“They’re keeping the character of what The Wynd is about.”

Sue Gough, owner of Garden City Crafts, also based in The Wynd, added: “We’re pleased as it means we can stay. We hope it will bring more footfall.”

Transition Town Letchworth member Sue Lines was disappointed with the proposals after the environmental sustainability group submitted its own ideas for The Wynd.

Speaking after viewing the plans, she said: “I can’t see anything in reference to sustainability and there’s nothing here that relates to what’s gone before.”

David Ames, head of strategic planning and heritage for the Heritage Foundation, said: “This consultation is a little bit of a check on what we’re doing. Option two came out best and we’re trying to check that people are happy with that as being the preferred use.

“If we get good feedback on it there’s no reason why we couldn’t start doing things now. Any units that come available in The Wynd we could say that we are after something that reflects the garden centre theme.”

The Heritage Foundation has also made suggestions about the uses of buildings as part of a wider town centre strategy.

Among the ideas displayed at the exhibition is to turn Brotherhood Hall in Gernon Road into a youth club and use the empty Letchworth Grammar School site as a cultural and educational centre.

Another suggestion is to turn Letchworth Town Hall into a muti-use educational facility, and move the war memorial to Broadway Gardens, something which Hertfordshire Highways is looking into as part of an attempt to open out the Letchworth Railway Station forecourt.

Feedback from the consultation will be analysed by independent company Allies and Morrison Urban Practitioners on behalf of the Heritage Foundation before a final plan is submitted to North Herts District Council.

*What do you think of these suggestions? Email your views to nick.gill@thecomet.net