Date Published: 04 October 2017
The results of a public consultation around possible options for the redevelopment of Oakham Town Centre have been published, with the majority of responses in favour of introducing a one-way system along Oakham High Street.
Proposals for the regeneration of Oakham High Street were first put forward by Rutland County Council in June 2017.
Pavements and road surfaces in the centre of Oakham are nearing the end of their useful life and plans to undertake a town centre improvement scheme to revitalise the area before the end of 2018 form part of the Council’s latest corporate plan.
After early engagement with various groups who represent local people and businesses in Oakham, Rutland County Council worked with specialist designers to developed two possible options for the future development of Oakham Town Centre, which were put out to public consultation from 14th June to 7th July 2017. The Options put forward were:
Option A: One-way with traffic flowing west to east, incorporating echelon parking, loading bays, high quality surfaces and wider pavements.
Option B: Two-way traffic flow with an enhanced pedestrian environment and high quality surfaces.
Of the 952 people who took part in the consultation, 501 (53%) responded in favour of Option A and the introduction of a one-way system with traffic flowing east to west along the High Street, while 422 (44%) chose Option B. A total of 29 people (3%) responded without indicating a preference.
“Oakham is our County Town and Rutland’s largest population centre but this is not currently reflected in the quality of the High Street, which needs major investment. Improving the centre of Oakham is key to improving residents’ experiences, bringing more visitors to the town and developing a thriving daytime and evening economy with a greater choice of shops, markets, cafes and restaurants. The consultation that took place earlier this year generated a huge amount of feedback which we have spent a long time analysing. An overwhelming number of consultation responses wanted something done to improve the town and the majority have indicated a preference for Option A."
Councillor Tony Mathias, Leader of Rutland County Council
A full report detailing the outcome of the consultation and recommending the Council further develop Option A as the preferred option for the redevelopment of Oakham Town Centre has now been published and will be discussed by Cabinet on Tuesday 10th October. If approved as recommended, a third and final phase of the consultation will take place on the detailed design, construction methods and timings before a final decision on the scheme is taken by Full Council in early 2018.
"The prospect of a one-way system was not universally popular when we held the consultation in June and we have since gone away and looked very seriously at all the feedback we received. A number of responses raised concerns around the effects of diverting traffic from the High Street onto other nearby roads, and what impact this would have. Traffic surveys and modelling were carried out during the early design stage and concluded that a one-way system was feasible. However, following the consultation and in response to residents’ concerns, further traffic surveys, modelling and analysis have all been carried out to explore in even greater detail how a one-way system would affect traffic flows on adjacent roads. This has found that the increase in flow would be modest in terms of the number of vehicles per minute and well within the capacity of our roads and junctions. Analysis of any pinch points and constraints along the alternative routes has also been carried out and these will be addressed during the detailed design stage, if we move forward with Option A."
Council Leader Tony Mathias
Many consultation responses also touched on the provision of additional town centre parking and work is underway on a parking sufficiency report to better understand the current use of Oakham’s parking assets, the need for any additional parking and what scope there is to meet this demand.
“We could do nothing to improve the Town Centre but, given the challenges facing high streets in general and Oakham in particular, it’s likely this would lead to decline, with reduced footfall and less inward investment. Significant maintenance work is already needed along the High Street, providing an opportunity to go further and create a space where more people want walk, shop and relax. Residents have indicated their preference and this is the option we are now looking to take forward.”
Council Leader Tony Mathias
Consultation on detailed designs for the redevelopment of Oakham Town Centre will take place early in the New Year. Approval to fund construction of the Oakham Town Centre Improvement Scheme will not be sought until after the detailed design is complete and target costs have been established.
The Cabinet report around Oakham Town Centre (No: 142/2017) can be viewed in full on the Meetings section of our website.