A £13m Levelling Up Fund bid has been submitted to the Government for a range of integrated transport and environmental improvements to the Bath Street area in Leamington’s Old Town.
Warwick District Council (WDC) has developed the technical content of the bid by working closely with colleagues in Warwickshire County Council’s (WCC) Highways team. The bid, if successful, will be matched with £3.5m of funding from the District Council’s Community Infrastructure Levy.
Bath Street’s junction with High Street has long been one of the poorest air quality hotspots in the whole County. Technical work led by WCC has been ongoing in recent years, funded by WDC’s Community Infrastructure Levy which has developed potential solutions that are now able to be put forward to the Government as part of funding opportunities, like the Levelling Up Fund.
The bid includes draft proposals to enable the removal of through traffic from Bath Street to make this a bus only route, with a cycle route and improved pedestrian environment. This will enhance this historic street’s ability to support increased vibrancy and further strengthen the range of shops and businesses in this part of town, as well as significantly improving the long-standing air quality problems.
The route will be complimented by a new bus interchange on the current WDC owned Bath Place Car Park directly adjacent to the town’s rail station, allowing the public space at Victoria Terrace to be less traffic dominated and more people friendly. The first phase of a ‘High-Line’ involving re-purposing a set of former railway arches is also included within the bid.
The Councils will be undertaking extensive engagement and consultation with residents and businesses to help design and refine the current draft proposals.
The Leader of Warwick District Council, Councillor Andrew Day commented:
“Taking the lead to directly support our transition to sustainable zero carbon travel, is pivotal to achieving the ambitious goals of our local Climate Change Action Programme. Investment in critical infrastructure is key to enable us all to make this step change, without a loss to the quality of our busy lives.
“This innovative outline scheme builds on the work just completed at Leamington Station. It aims to significantly reduce the impact of poor air quality in Leamington, whilst giving a timely boost to local businesses.
“Having the input of residents and businesses in the design and detail of the final plans will be vital in ensuring that a sustainable transport system is created for Old Town that works for everyone. I look forward to hearing the outcome of this bid and hopefully rolling-up my sleeves, working with the public, to get the very best for our beautiful town.”
Councillor Izzy Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council added:
"The proposals for the Bath Place area absolutely align with the County Council’s ambitions for all of Warwickshire. Improved air quality, a more accessible area that gives pedestrians and cyclists access to the businesses and improved public transport are very much at the forefront of our strategies for increasing vibrant local economies while promoting healthy lifestyles.
“It’s essential that both County and District Councils work together on the engagement to ensure that the detail of any bid is in keeping with the aspirations of local businesses and residents."
Leamington & Warwick Member of Parliament, Matt Western commented:
“I have been arguing for many years for the need for an ambitious transport hub immediately adjacent to Leamington station. This would help tackle poor air quality and provide decent public bus and cycle infrastructure. That’s why I lent my support to our regional councils in a bid to secure funding from Government for a transport hub in the station area in south Leamington.
"But I do have some reservations about the detail of the scheme and want the public to be fully consulted before it is finalised."
The Government department will now assess the submitted bids over the coming months. Meanwhile, work continues with Leamington’s Town Centre Transformation Framework within which the Bath Street Area Improvements form a major part of the overall vision for the future of a vibrant and well-connected town centre.
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