Weston Mercury: MP approves of plans to add life & social-feel to town centre

STREET art, pedestrianisation and more outdoor events around Weston High Street were all highlighted as priorities at a meeting of businesses to discuss town centre regeneration.

Business owners from across the town were invited to meet with town centre regeneration specialists from TownCentred Ltd to help ‘develop and create a stronger town centre’.

Plans to improve Weston’s shopping areas are being explored and regeneration specialist George Grace met with business owners on four separate occasions on Monday and Tuesday.

The company was asked to consult on the project by North Somerset Council two months ago and Mr Grace said: “We are experts in town centres, but we are not experts in Weston specifically yet.

“We want to find out what the issues are for businesses in the area and gather views so we can fit that into our plan.”

Independent businesses were praised in the meeting and Jo Southard, who is the development manager for the Lighthouse charity, said: “There are lots of pockets of people who want to work for this town and see it change.”

The pavement and road outside of Weston Town Hall has recently been revamped in a a £210,000 bid to promote café culture, and it is hoped more work like this could be completed to pedestrianise more of Weston.

Partial pedestrianisation in Orchard Meadows was suggested to make it more pleasant for shoppers and create the possibility for an outdoor market.

But the one-way system and the need to make way for delivery vehicles were highlighted as potential obstacles.

Repainting buildings and creating a street art culture were also suggested.

A Miami look for Weston has been looked at previously and Mr Grace also spoke about ‘rebranding’ Orchard Meadows.

He said: “Orchard and Meadows are hard words to remember and it’s hard to imagine what it’s going to be like.”

He spoke about adopting a similar name to the famous Brighton Lanes, and said: “You might want to think and see if you should rebrand it to Weston Lanes.”

The meetings in Weston took place as the town’s MP John Penrose praised reforms of the planning system, which promote building up and not out.

Mr Penrose said: “It will add life to urban centres, create more living spaces within walking distance of shops and social life for young and old, and protect green fields from development pressures.”

Weston’s former police station may also be demolished and is poised for housing development in the next few years as part of the work to revitalise the town centre.

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