Towns 'should be more accessible', says surveyors group RICS
- 12 February 2013
- From the section North West Wales
Welsh councils are being asked to look again at pedestrian zones amid concern they are deterring shoppers.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) says towns need to find new ways to attract people.
They should make them easier to get to and easier for car drivers to navigate around, it says.
RICS members are meeting this week to discuss what should be done to make town centres more accessible and get more people spending there.
One town the group says could benefit from a review of pedestrianisation is Colwyn Bay.
'Nail in the coffin'
One of its main shopping streets, Station Road, has been free of traffic since the 1980s.
Pedestrianisation is a factor behind one trader's decision to shut up the family shop after 135 years.
Philip Arundale, who runs a greengrocer set up by his great grandfather there in 1878, has decided to close and concentrate on deliveries instead.
The ban on traffic from his street is partly to blame.
"Pedestrianisation has been a big nail in the coffin," he explained.
"Fruit and veg is heavy. People don't want to be carrying bags of veg to the nearest car park. When cars could come down the street, people just used to pop in.
"We've really campaigned against pedestrianisation the whole time. But now it's too late. It's terribly sad. I've been here all my life, and my father, grandfather and great grandfather before me.
"We'll be carrying on with just one member of staff and focusing just on deliveries - it's a shame."
Richard Baddeley, a surveyor in Conwy county and a member of RICS in north Wales, said towns like Colwyn Bay, Holyhead, Rhyl and Holywell have all had pedestrianised areas for some time, but now need to think of new ways to get people spending.
"Shopping has changed. High streets have changed. There are now out-of-town shopping centres - they're a draw for people," he said.
"One out-of-town shopping centre near north Wales - Cheshire Oaks in Ellesmere Port - has increased its turnover by 22% this year.
"The key issue is accessibility. Small and medium-sized towns need to think about how they attract cars in the future with improved parking and making the shops more accessible.
"It will not put the clock back, but improved accessibility may attract new independent retailers."
Conwy council said it looked at whether to reopen Station Road to traffic a few years ago, but almost everyone who replied to the consultation said things should stay as they are.
Anglesey council said it is looking in detail at how many people shop in the centre of Holyhead.
Dewi Williams, Anglesey's Head of Highways and Waste Management, added: "the issue of pedestrianisation in town centres is one which provokes considerable debate.
"While we have no plans to change the current arrangement in Holyhead at the moment, we will be happy to consider the outcome of a public consultation that a local community group are planning on holding in the near future.
"The Holyhead town centre master plan currently being undertaken may also inform us of the benefits of any proposals."