Rugby independent traders ask for pedestrianisation to be extended

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THE pedestrianisation of Church Street and North Street should also include the top of Regent Street and Bank Street, say Rugby shopkeepers.

The plans to significantly alter the town centre were released last week by Sustainable Rugby. Draft plans include pedestrianising Church Street and North Street, but allowing buses, taxis and bikes to use them.

Reaction to the plans has generally been positive from traders, but Sustainable Rugby, an organisation of traders and others with an interest in the town, would like to see pedestrianisation extended down Regent Street as far as Henry Street and also include Bank Street.

They also want to make Albert Street run both ways, which could ease traffic and make it easier for traffic to access the John Barford multi-storey car park. There are concerns too about where to relocate Rugby outdoor market, about which which the traders are in on-going discussions with the county council.

Cllr Neil Sandison, chairman of Sustainable Rugby, said: “The county council wanted to direct heavy traffic down Regent Street, but I think this is a bad idea as it’s home to a lot of residents and some fantastic architecture that may not be able to withstand the constant vibrations caused by buses.

“Instead, if it was pedestrianised, it would further link Rugby’s successful Independent Quarter with the rest of the town centre, which I think would be fantastic for everyone.”

Mike O’Connor, of J Parriss jewellers on Regent Street, said that when he was chair of Rugby Retailers Association two years ago, almost all shops favoured the plans.

“I think this will be a great boost for the town, with or without the inclusion of Regent Street and Bank Street. What it will do is link the Independent Quarter to the rest of Rugby, which will benefit everyone.

“I have heard of people who wanted to open a shop in Rugby but who haven’t because of the way that North Street and Church Street divide the town.”

He added: “Realistically, I doubt whether there is enough money available to extend the pedestrianisation down Regent and Bank Street, but even so, I think this is a great opportunity and can’t happen soon enough.”

The county council will issue revised plans for wider consultation in March 2013. The cost of the £1 million scheme is divided equally by Rugby and Warwickshire councils.