Have your say on future of Stevenage High Street
- Credit: Louise McEvoy
A public consultation on changes to Stevenage's historic High Street is set to launch next month.
Parking bays in the High Street were forfeited during the COVID-19 pandemic to accommodate temporary outdoor seating for restaurants and bars, including outside Cinnabar, Angelique, Misya and Wetherspoon's The Standing Order.
The changes have been met with mixed opinions, with some embracing the al fresco café culture and others concerned the loss of free parking is a deterrent for shoppers.
Stevenage Borough Council is under pressure to consider removing free High Street parking altogether, after successfully bidding to become one of Hertfordshire's first Sustainable Travel Towns - a scheme aimed at shifting away from cars, towards walking, cycling and public transport.
Part of the criteria - set by Hertfordshire County Council - is to ensure no free parking in town centres, which under the scheme includes Stevenage High Street.
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The borough council says it will be "conducting consultation and engagement with Old Town residents, businesses and users" during October and November to capture views on the current High Street changes, and what people would like to see in the future.
Councillor Lloyd Briscoe, executive member for enterprise, economy and transport, said: “We want to give everyone the chance to comment on how residents enjoyed the summer of al fresco dining provided by food and beverage businesses. Please take part and share your experiences of how you used the Old Town over the last year and your ideas for the future.”
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From next week, ahead of the consultation, the area outside Wetherspoon will revert back to a parking area.
The council says all other outdoor seating areas will remain in operation while they "engage with and listen to the views of residents and businesses and form a plan for the Old Town High Street".
Free parking in the former Waitrose car park, behind the High Street in Primett Road, will be reduced from three hours to one hour from later this month until the end of May 2022.
A council spokesman said: "This will allow us to complete consultation with residents and businesses, to support the High Street recovery, and give us all time to plan ahead."