Money to pedestrianise the area around the clock tower has finally been secured – meaning the project could start this year.
It would mean private cars would be banned from the whole of North Street and Church Street up to the corner of Regent Street outside St Andrew’s church, with only buses and taxis allowed through.
It’s hoped the £1m project will link Rugby’s High Street with its Independent Quarter around Regent, Bank, Albert and Henry streets and boost trade in both parts of the town.
While some businesses are opposed, many are for the plans,, which are being funded by Rugby Borough and Warwickshire County councils.
Mike O’Connor, of J Parriss Jewellers in Regent Street, is in favour of the plans, and said that he knew of businessmen who refused to open shops in Rugby because they did not want to invest in a town that was divided.
“I think it’s a great project for the town and will hopefully boost business and make shopping easier for everyone in Rugby,” he said.
“And hopefully, linking the town up will lead to more investment and less empty units on both sides of Church Street and North Street. It’s a project that will help shops at both ends of the town centre.”
But Bev Thomas of Etcetera believes the money would be better spent elsewhere. She said: “This would have been an option five or six years ago but things have changed now - what benefit would it bring linking the quiet High Street to the independent quarter?
“I also think shoppers will find it inconvenient having less parking in this part of town, people like the convenience of leaving their car in the street for an hour or so, but that will change and it will just result in another obstacle for shoppers.”
Cllr Heather Timms, Rugby Borough portfolio holder for economy, development and culture, said: “This will be fantastic for Rugby - linking the two parts of town is something that the majority of people in Rugby have wanted for a long time and will make life easier for everyone, but especially wheelchair users and parents with buggies. I’m surprised there is opposition to it, but I hope that after it happens the doubters will be won over.”