Enhancement works will be carried out to Widemarsh Street, Hereford, as part of the Hereford City Centre Improvements (HCCI) plan.
The scheme, estimated to take 16 weeks, is scheduled to begin in February, subject to detailed design being completed, and will include the removal of the current 50mm kerb by lifting and replacing the road surface, with new channel blocks and drainage system.
The existing Widemarsh St design was completed in 2011 and has been subject to a number of specialist design and safety reviews. All of these have concluded that the scheme is fully in line with design guidance and best practice.
However, the public have continued to lobby local councillors as well as the Cabinet Member regarding incidents personal to them. In light of this a Cabinet Member decision made last year ensured that a budget to enhance Widemarsh St was included in the HCCI programme.
Councillor John Harrington, Cabinet member infrastructure and transport said: “The existing layout of Widemarsh St was conceived with the best of intentions, conforming, I believe, to design and best practice guidance, and with the aim of promoting pedestrian safety. And this remains the professional view of officers and our public realm contractor. However, it is our opinion as an administration, that unfortunately and undeniably, the design has caused difficulties for some pedestrians, and this is something we were keen to remedy.
“Widemarsh St is a key part of the City centre, being a popular route for pedestrians and vehicles, home to many shops and businesses, and providing an important link between Old Market and High Town. It is a central component of our transport network and economy, along with the status and appeal of Hereford as a visitor destination and place for local people to enjoy their leisure time. As such it is important that we listen to feedback from the public to make it as safe as possible.
“We explored a wide variety of options, with emphasis on aesthetics, safety, ease of use, drainage and cost. Unfortunately, no matter which way we cut it in terms of trying to remove the kerb and its negative effects - balancing that out against best value in trying times financially - nothing provided the certainty that we insisted on other than this optimal solution of removing the kerb completely. This will be expensive but it is a cost we are certain we must pay to ensure this street scheme is what the visitors and residents of Herefordshire deserve. I am only sorry that it has taken so long to address”.
More details can be found on the Decisions page of the Council website.