Frome Town Council’s number one priority is delivering a ground-breaking capital project to regenerate the town centre.
What is the project?
A comprehensive scheme of public realm works including new paving, lighting, street furniture, repairs to historic assets, courtesy crossings and low kerbs that will:
- make Frome Town Centre a more attractive place for people to visit, shop and do business
- make it much easier for pedestrians to cross the main road running through the Market Place
- ultimately encourage greater footfall and trade that will make Frome a more attractive location for investment
The scheme will be developed in two phases with the first planned for 2014:
- Installation of new natural stone paving and improved street furniture including the provision of seating, feature lighting and power within the Market Place
- Repair of the Boyle Cross monument and reinstatement of the fountain
- The removal of the majority of parking around the monument so that it becomes a more effective focal point, with more space for people to gather and sit, enable more creative use of the space e.g. for markets and events and to reduce a current source of conflict between road users and between road users and pedestrians
- Consultants IMA Transport Planning have now completed the detailed designs for Phase 1. These will be the subject of consultation with the local community including town centre businesses and a planning application before work proceeds.
- Wider footways using natural stone paving and lower kerbs within the Market Place; the use of tactile paving for partially sighted people
- Resurfaced and realigned carriageway to make drivers drive more slowly as they approach the Market Place
- The introduction of a 20 mph zone
- Courtesy crossings using raised tables enabling pedestrians to cross on convenient desire lines
- The removal of unnecessary and unsightly street ‘clutter’ within the Market Place
- A realignment of the bus stops which currently create congestion
How and why has this scheme come about?
In the summer of 2008, local people were asked to say what they liked about Frome, what they disliked and what they would like to see changed over the coming years. What emerged was a Community Plan which is relevant today in that people still express support for many of its objectives including those relating to the town centre. Key policy documents including the Mendip District Local Plan, the Town Council’ s Strategy for Success and the Neighbourhood Plan for Frome are all based on this Community Plan. Public consultation at the time and since the publication of these plans has confirmed how important it is to do something about the design of the Market Place and the streets around it and make it easier for pedestrians to move around the town centre.
The Town Council commissioned a feasibility study that was completed by Landscape Projects in 2012. The study considered how pedestrian movement could be encouraged and the town centre’s appeal could be improved whilst maintaining vehicular access. All communication channels were used to engage the local community.
Following extensive consultation, it was clear that the consensus was to:
- Create a place where people come first over cars through traffic calming measures, introducing convenient crossing points and removing obstacles to pedestrian movement
- Introduce a programme of lighting improvements
- Create inviting and lively spaces
- Make the Boyle Cross the focal point of the Market Place
- Declutter the streets
- Increase the amount of seating within the Market Place
- Improve the access for disabled people
- Improve the quality of paving and street furniture
Of the various options presented, the most popular was Option 3 (Public realm improvements, traffic calming, low kerbs and courtesy crossings).
Respondents felt that this option will improve the appearance and character of the public realm and improve pedestrian safety. Many respondents would like to see parking removed from the Boyle Cross area as part of this option. In developing the scheme many would like to see more detailed proposals to address:
- Congestion generated by buses and deliveries
- The lack of provision for cyclists
- The need to slow traffic to 20 mph or below on the approaches to the Market Place
How will the scheme benefit the local economy?
By making the town centre more pedestrian friendly, more attractive in the evening and night, providing opportunities to sit and enhancing the facilities for events, the scheme will generate additional footfall and ultimately more trade for local businesses. Similar schemes elsewhere e.g. New Road in Brighton have shown how investment that creates greater pedestrian priority in town centres can have a significant impact on footfall and dwell time. In New Road, extended traffic calming created 175% more pedestrian traffic and 600% more staying activity.
For further information on this project contact: Peter Wheelhouse, Economic Development and Regeneration Manager, Frome Town Council: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01373 465757