Hemel Hempstead's £5m 'makeover' plans approved
Plans for the next phase of a project to transform Hemel Hempstead have been approved by councillors.
Dacorum Borough Council has agreed designs, which will cost just over £5m, including improvements to the Marlowes shopping zone, a new town square and bus interchange.
Conservative leader Andrew Williams said it wanted the town to be "a more vibrant and busy place".
"We are looking for a complete makeover of the streets," he said.
A £2.91m project, known as Hemel Evolution, focuses on the pedestrian zone between the centre of the town and the riverside development.
Plans include building a central town square, linking the centre of Marlowes to the Water Gardens, which is earmarked as a "sociable area" with a performance space.
More trees, play areas, seating, improved lighting and a large screen display are also planned.
Work is due to begin in late spring and should be completed early in 2015, with a scheduled break for Christmas.
A new £2.16m bus interchange at Bridge Street, with modern passenger information and waiting facilities, will replace the existing Waterhouse Street bus station.
Work on this part of the project will start once necessary traffic regulations orders are in place.
This will leave the Market Square free to develop and the council is currently looking for a development partner to turn the area into a leisure complex.
Mr Williams said the council was investing in "increasing the attractiveness" of the town centre to attract more businesses and visitors.
"We are looking for a complete makeover of the streets, everything from the paving and street furniture to landscaping and market layout to improve the experience of being in Hemel town centre," he said.
"We need to increase footfall to attract retailers and we need to attract retailers to increase footfall so we have to do what we can to improve the environment of the area."