A MULTI-million pound project to improve the look of Bridgwater and promote the town’s history has been met with praise.
Consultation events this month have been asking people for their views on the Celebration Mile, a pedestrian route from the station to the Docks which tidies up several areas of the town.
Sedgemoor District Council chose it as the first project in a major face lift for the town centre as part of The Bridgwater Vision plan.
Steve Harris, senior economic development officer for SDC, told the Mercury at a consultation event in Eastover that feedback has been positive.
He said: “Lots of people have been handing in questionnaires and letting us know what they think.
“This is a feasibility study which is being funded by EDF from some of the first part of the Section 106 financial contribution from Hinkley Point C.
“When the new nuclear power station starts to be built, the second part from the S106 will be released and some of that could fund the ideas mentioned in this project.”
The proposals include improving signage, creative seating and lighting, enhancing green space, art on blank walls, public spaces and more. Areas featured are Bridgwater Docks, Angel Crescent, Fore Street, St John Street, Eastover and the train station.
Esther Kilner, landscape architect for ARUP, which has put together the document with SDC, said: “This has been a background project for about a year and it has now come to fruition, with the feasibility study released to the public.
“A report will be made to the council at the end of June and they can look at the plans with the feedback and discuss it fully.”
The Mercury caught up with shoppers who have been viewing ideas for the Celebration Mile.
June Slowley and Tel Needle, of Middlezoy, liked what they saw. June said: “I think a one-way road system for Eastover would be good. I also agree there should be improvements to the docks area to make it into a tourist attraction.
But Tel added: “They seem to be relying on EDF going forward for part of the funding, if Hinkley C gets built.”
Simon Thomson, of Kendale Road, said: “Eastover needs tidying up - it’s a mess. Parking provision needs to be considered for Eastover and St John Street especially.
“My major concern is there are not enough leisure facilities in this town. We have plenty for businesses, but we need to balance that with leisure too and promote the town’s history, like this project suggests.
“Bridgwater has so much potential and it can easily be made a lot better.”
Andrew Humphries, who runs Andrew Humphries Jeweller in Eastover, said: “I think the council has listened to the views of the community.
“Traders made it clear we do not want Eastover pedestrianised, so the project has introduced a one-way traffic proposal instead.
“We want pedestrians and traffic to co-exist. I think that can happen if these ideas go ahead.
“The proposals concentrate on making the whole area more attractive to shoppers, such as introducing signage directing people to independent shops.
“Shops can thrive in Eastover. I’ve been here for 12 years and Bridgwater just needs a little bit of a polish up.”
The next consultation events are: May 15, ticket hall of Bridgwater Railway Station during opening hours (unstaffed) May 16, outside Bridgwater Railway Station, 10am to 2pm.
May 23, the Castle Market, Bridgwater, 10am to 2pm.
Detailed plans are also available here.