Cirencester Market Place

5th April 2017

I have been the Member of Parliament for The Cotswolds for 25 years. In this time it is safe to say that I have seen a significant amount of development in the constituency and none more so than in Cirencester.

The Market Place regeneration scheme has certainly split opinion amongst residents and visitors to this bustling town. The scheme went through a rigorous and extensive public consultation. Cirencester Town Council also worked hard to ensure that this scheme was in fitting with the aesthetic of this historic market town and the many listed buildings that are to be found here.

Around St John’s Church, the part-pedestrianisation looks fantastic and has opened up the area to become much safer and more accessible to people frequenting the various shops, cafes and the weekly market.

For its many positive features there are, however some negative effects that the town centre regeneration has had on Cirencester and its residents. I have met several constituents who have reiterated to me the hazards associated with the new pavement, namely not being able to see where the kerb ends as a result of the pavement’s design.

This is particularly dangerous to elderly and disabled residents. The problem is that there is no consistency. Either there should be kerbs wherever there is traffic or the road should be level with the pavement ,but not both.

Equally there must be some disabled car parking in the market place for those blue badge holders who can not walk far.

The signposting needs to be carefully considered especially at the crossroads with Castle Street and Cricklade Street. This signage needs to be properly sited so that all drivers have a clear direction through the Market Place.

The nature of the new road layout has left a number of locals dissatisfied. For those people coming from Gosditch Street, being unable to turn right onto Castle Street has serious consequences. I met with one individual who lived near Gosditch Street who had to travel twice as far and pay twice as much to get a taxi to Cirencester Hospital.

This is not acceptable. I understand that Castle Street was made one way to stop rat running through the town, but sadly all that's happened is that there is more traffic on other roads with people having to travel further. 

I fully support the regeneration of Cirencester town centre but all resident’s concerns and feedback must be taken into account to ensure that it works for both residents and businesses. It is important that all signposting particularly to car parks is clear so that tourists enjoy the town and want to return. Equally we do need to find a rapid solution to build extra parking.

Finally we need to really consider providing a welcoming bus station. It is not acceptable in the 21st century that residents and visitors to the main Corinium bus station have to stand out in the rain.

As such, I recommend a review by the Town Council in six months and I look forward to fully evaluating the results.

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Planning White Papers

I have submitted my responses to the two planning consultations: “Changes to the current planning system’ and “Planning for the future’.

These planning changes are one of the most significant events to affect the Cotswolds since WWII. I think that both papers contain positive proposals, in our case commitments to protect the AONB. The proposal to abolition Section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) should speed up the planning process and it is important that the money is retained locally so that the infrastructure can be built at the same time as the development. 

Too often we see a development being built long before the supporting infrastructure, which I know can cause significant issues for existing residents. The proposals to simplify and speed up local plan-making and retaining neighbourhood plans where possible are welcome, in that design codes can be specified so it should be possible to protect our unique Cotswolds vernacular.   

I spoke in the planning backbench business debate on the 8 October and called for a change to the algorithm the Government uses in its planning White Paper which fails to take account of local variations and concentrates all new house building in the south-east and central south of England. 

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