THE clock is ticking for changes that will radically alter the face of Cheltenham.
Plans have been set out to give developers a step by step guide to create a new and improved town centre.
The schemes have been put together by the Cheltenham Development Task Force – which has put together a plan to transform the town by 2015.
They centre around the three main developments – North Place, The Brewery, and Boots' corner. As well as the banner projects, there are a host of smaller project for Cheltenham for 2015. They include a new pedestrian wayfinding map scheme, due to be designed in this spring and installed in the summer. The aim is to help people navigate the town on foot and by bike with costs estimated just under £300,000.
A cycle route signing and cycle parking scheme is due to be implemented in spring this year to get more people pedalling and out of their cars.
There is also an idea for a new cross-town bus routes, with the possible introduction of smartcard technology this spring. It would work like the Oyster cards in London.
A sum of £300,000 is earmarked to make new electronic car park signs, showing available spaces. These could be in place in spring 2015. The task force will continue its plans for the redevelopment of the Royal Well area, which will include the borough council moving out of the Municipal Offices.
They ideally wanted a bidder for the site by this summer, with a scheme agreed in January 2014. It is thought that some of the money for these projects will come from the sale of the North Place site, but money will also have to be found from other avenues.
Councillor Andrew McKinlay (LD, Up Hatherley), cabinet member for built environment, said: "It has been three years since we set up the Task Force but in many ways it seems much longer because of how much it has had to do with changing the physical reality of the town. It has been very successful in its initial three years – considering it is a provisory body that relies on the good will of others to deliver its objectives, it has been remarkably successful."
Mr McKinlay listed the work done developing the Midwinter allotment site, the progress of The Brewery phase two and North Place as examples of how the task group is "significantly enhancing" the town.
He added: "This plan aims to build on the good work that has already taken place."
Councillor John Rawson (LD, St Peters), cabinet member for finance, said: "What the task force has brought us is greater joined up thinking across the public and private sectors and it has joined up different sources of funding.
"Clearly some of these projects are absolutely crucial and it is very important that we deliver them."
BREWERY FACTFILE:The Brewery phase two secured planning permission in July last year:Task Force is currently working with developers to make the plans a reality.It is hoped that a start on the site will be either late 2013 or early 2014 – subject to finalising existing shop relocations.n The scheme will link the High Street and The Brewery by creating a new walkway which will make The Brewery visible from Boots’ corner.It is a £20 million scheme.It will create new shops, restaurants and cafes and once work starts it could be completed in two years.It will see the 1960s buildings between Henrietta and Bennington streets razed.A new pedestrian link will be added to guide people from the High Street into The Brewery.A total of 100,000 sq ft of shopping floor space will be created.It is hoped the development will boost footfall for The Brewery, which has experienced mixed fortunes.NFU Mutual, which owns the buildings along with The Brewery, enlisted developer Martin Commercial Properties and architects Roberts Limbrick for the work.Bob Martin, manager of Martin Commercial Properties, said: “We will be aiming to attract good-quality retailers to the scheme, that’s the intention.”BOOTS CORNER FACTFILE:Public consultation on plans to pedestrianise Boots’ corner, but still allow buses through, expected in June 2013.Boots’ corner ‘public realm enhancements’ to spruce up of the heart of the town centre at a possible cost of £2 million scheduled for spring 2014.The scheme was made possible after the Government approved a county grant of nearly £5 million.That money will be spent on other schemes as well as Boots’ corner.When the scheme is complete, all traffic apart from buses will be banned from the corner and shoppers will have a clearer route to the lower end of the High Street.It will make the town centre safer as well as joining the two halves for shoppers.NORTH PLACE:Work is due to start, perhaps soon as next month, on building 143 housing units, 57 of which will be affordable.Plans also include a large supermarket.It will offer a new public space called Trinity Square, a bus station, and a 600-space multi storey car park.The North Place project is due to create 300 new jobs.Work to improve Town Centre East car park, previously called Grosvenor Terrace, will be carried out to the tune of £130,000 this year, as well as new road signage to direct motorists to the facility in preparation for loss of spaces at North Place.Work to improve connections between Boots’ corner and North Place is to take place in spring 2014.