A large-scale revamp of Burton town centre will see improved traffic signals, a railway station facelift and the potential closure of the notorious Andressey Passage.
Other projects as part of phase one of the revamp scheme, could include improving the Memorial Gardens and adding new green areas, as well as improving existing ones. It may also see the commissioning of new public art as well as improving The Washlands to attract more tourists.
Traffic signals, particularly in Union Street, which have sparked fury among motorists caught in tailbacks due to timing issues, will also be improved. Burton Railway Station, which has been in desperate need of a facelift for many years, will also be revamped.
Andressey Passage, an alleyway which links the High Street to Friars Walk, has long been a notorious area for crime. Under the revamp plan it could be closed. In 2011, the alleyway featured on BBC1's Crimewatch after a woman was left unconscious following an attack in the alleyway. The shocking CCTV footage was later shown on the programme, and four men were jailed for the attack.
The possible improvements are set to be made as part of the East Staffordshire Town Centre Regeneration Programme launched in February and fronted by East Staffordshire Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council. The cost of the work has still to be finalised.
The programme is set to be delivered by the councils in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and is aimed at improving the appeal of Burton town centre to visitors and potential businesses.
The objectives of the programme are to:
- Provide a safe and attractive spaces for pedestrians in the town centre
- Keep traffic moving on the most appropriate routes in the town centre
- Provide a convenient bus access to the town centre
- Create a more modern, welcoming and appropriate identity for the town centre
- Improve the town centre resident and visitor experience
- Support businesses in the town centre to reduce the level of business/shop vacancy rates within the town centre
In July an event was held allowing the partner organisations involved in the project to present their proposals on potential future regeneration schemes to key stakeholders. The feedback received from the stakeholders has allowed the programme board to gauge the level of support for each option.
Some work as part of the revamp has already taken place. These has seen the installation of attractive all-year-round hanging baskets and the one-way traffic flow system in the Coopers Square car park. Other projects will shortly be implemented, with others requiring further consultation.
Borough councillor Julia Jessel, the council's deputy leader of town centre and neighbourhoods, and chairman of the programme board, said: "We are committed as a partnership of local authorities and businesses to improving our town centre. We want to secure a successful future for Burton's town centre by making it more attractive, bringing in more people and encouraging inward investment."
As part of the project, the highways group, which will be led by highways authority Staffordshire County Council, plans to make improvements to the transportation links of the town centre.
Councillor Mark Deaville, the council's cabinet member for highways and transport, and lead councillor on the programme board, said: "We are continuing to work with the borough council and our partners to make Burton attractive to both shoppers and businesses."
A key partner to the East Staffordshire Town Centre Regeneration Programme is the Chamber of Commerce. Chris Plant, director at Burton and District Chamber of Commerce, who sits on the programme board as an independent business representative, said: "We are committed to improving the overall experience of visiting Burton and making it a town centre that local people and visitors want to shop and spend time in, both during the day and evenings.
"The chamber of commerce working in partnership with the borough and the county councils are focused on; regeneration, business support, employment and skills. These projects will enhance the vibrancy of Burton, help support economic growth and act as a catalyst for wider ongoing investment, employment and development."
A spokesperson for East Staffordshire Borough Council said: "The projects are currently in their planning stage and, as such, costs have not been specified.
"As we are in the process of commissioning companies to support the authority for developing this work, the information relating to cost is commercially sensitive as the Council wishes to ensure value for tax payers money.
"When the time is right, fully costed business cases will be prepared and appraised before the project is able to proceed. We are looking forward to working with county council and the Burton and District Chamber of Commerce on the phase 2 approach."
What we can expect to see
The programme comprises two phases. Phase one is made up of defined projects that are currently in the early stages of development. These include:
- The potential closure of Andressey Passage
- The improvement of areas of the Memorial Gardens and the greening of town centre.
- Improvements to current, and the commissioning of new, public art
- The Washlands - This project looks at making improvements in order to create a more aesthetically appealing, safe and interesting attraction for residents and tourists.
- Improvements to Burton's Railway Station
- Coopers Square Car Park - changes to traffic flow to reduce the backlog of traffic onto Union Street.
- Manor Croft – Reviewing the layout, number of parking bays, signage and length of stay.
- Union Street – Exploring solutions for improving the operation of the traffic signal junctions.
- New Street – Considering the implementation of a Permanent Traffic Regulation Order. This will supersede the already temporary order in place preventing parking and introducing a limited loading restriction.
The second phase of the programme will take the form of a jointly commissioned consultant supporting the development of a masterplan for the town, with a view to having the report available during 2018. This masterplan will contain several ambitious initiatives, revitalising the town centre, which will develop and build on its strengths and address its weaknesses.