A MELKSHAM resident hopes the community can use the neighbourhood plan to spark debate around ideas to redevelop the town centre that future generations can be proud of.
The Melksham Neighbourhood Plan is due to be published soon for final perusal by the public. It will then be put to the electorate at a local referendum.
A neighbourhood plan is a way of helping local communities to influence the planning of the area in which they live and work.
Resident Brian Warwick said, “I strongly believe here in Melksham our neighbourhood plan should not be constrained in the way planners are presently seeking the public’s input.
“My own view is it should also enable the community and planners to look decades ahead in imaginative terms for planning our town for the future.
“The town centre development is at present constrained by the no right turn into Church Street and the county council car park. Past discussions with planners have highlighted a rather negative attitude because of road constraints.
“I wonder if this is the right time for a public debate on how to improve the road links in the town and redevelop the eyesore Avon Place has become.
“What I would appreciate is the views of the community on whether this is the time to have a debate not only on Avon Place but the land to the west, ie Church Street car park.
“However, if we re-look at development long term there are possible alternatives by working in partnership with the county council. My own view is that efforts should be made to consider ways of creating a new access road where, or close to, William Hill premises within a given time frame of say ten years, offering the occupiers of those premises a more attractive site.
“This would enable a new wide access road to be built at the Lowbourne Road roundabout into the present county car park. That would, with support of county, enable the redevelopment of the town centre.
“With perhaps a underground car park, possible open markets, small retailing and continental type gardens and cafes. A town centre garden on part of that land could also incorporate a pedestrian way via Church Walk (north improvements) to Sainsbury’s and beyond. The increases in land values should also be of considerable help to contribute to costs.
“It would also remove the need for access via Church Street car park by making it exit only, thus also reducing the need for a no right turn and build up of traffic at the roundabout in front of the Town Hall.
“We need to think outside the box without normal constraints if we are going to achieve a retailing town centre to be proud of for years to come.
“At my age I don’t expect to be around in 20 years’ time, but I believe younger people in the town should be able to have their long-term views about the town development.”