Market square makeover

PUBLISHED: 10:09 14 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:32 31 May 2010

THE makeover of the market square, for which Cllr Walters seems to be claiming the credit, is simply a remake of something which was all done and dusted during the last administration. The previous town and district councils, along with the Saffron Walde

THE makeover of the market square, for which Cllr Walters seems to be claiming the credit, is simply a remake of something which was all done and dusted during the last administration.

The previous town and district councils, along with the Saffron Walden Initiative, accessed the money and obtained all the consents necessary to pedestrianise some of the square, whilst removing the problems of motorists driving round and round looking for a free space.

County Highways, however, failed to get the work done before the elections, after which it claimed to have lost the money anyway!

To his credit, Cllr Walters wrestled the £70k back from the county, but it was simply reinstating what had been agreed - and which would have been in place in early 2007, had County Highways got on with the job.

This new design does not improve the usefulness of the square at all. It is simply a 'gentrification', replacing asphalt with concrete paviors. Concrete is hideously risky in a town like Saffron Walden - the square could end up looking like a supermarket trolley park, or a prison exercise yard!

That Biggleswade is offered as a comparison gives me no confidence whatsoever! And people will still be driving round and round looking for a free space in which to park (14 circuits we counted once!).

Not only is this scheme worse than the original, it will cost more than twice as much. The lion's share comes from a Section 106 Agreement, which is a sort of tax imposed upon developers - in this case, the building work going on behind the town library. This sort of money is only available on the back of a large programme - and in Saffron Walden Town Centre, the likely sites have now all been developed. Once this has been spent on 'gentrifying' the market square, there will be no more Section 106 money for a good long time.

This precious windfall could be put to better use, not just spent for the sake of it. What about improving some of the road surfaces, which are a web of hastily repaired pot-holes? Or installing some decent traffic-calming in places like Church Street?

Covering our ancient market square in concrete blocks is not best use of this money, in my view.

Cllr Richard Freeman, Museum Street, Saffron Walden

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