THERE was standing room only and plenty of lively debate at the consultation evening on proposed improvements to Droitwich town centre.
It was organised by Mayor Bob Brookes to discuss suggestions put forward by Worcestershire County Council, which is putting together a package of investment for the town.
But, before the plan is compiled, the authority wants to hear about what people want to see prioritised.
At the meeting on Tuesday (October 7), more than 100 residents, businesses and other interested parties packed into the council chamber at St Richard’s House, Victoria Square.
Areas up for discussion ranged from the layout and surfacing of key roads, including the High Street, St Andrew’s Street and Road, Queen Street and Friar Street to parking provision, cycle routes, benches, bins, bollards and even hanging baskets.
Many voiced opposition to High Street pedestrianisation, pointing out the measure did not work when it was done before.
One claimed some High Street businesses lost 50 per cent of their takings and some were forced to shut because of the lack of passing trade that caused.
Other residents put across the point of view that what was not broken did not need to be fixed and one even went as far as saying, in contrast to years gone by when there were several empty shops, Droitwich High Street was better now than it had been since the devastating floods of July 2007.
The first question on the consultation asks whether the High Street should stay as it is now, be pedestrianised or be closed to most vehicles, except disabled drivers, public service and delivery vehicles.
The second asks about the number of on-street parking spaces, which are free for 45 minutes. Options includes no change to the number of spaces, the removal of spaces for wider footpaths, or have some converted to blue badge spaces.
On both the first questions, residents can offer alternatives.
The third question asks whether changes should be made to the High Street junctions at Queen Street and St Andrews Street.
The proposals suggest narrowing the roads to create ‘gateways’ to the town.
Those filling in the forms are asked to prioritise their areas for improvement, with regard to the roads and to the overall look and appearance.
There are also other spaces for people to make other general comments and one on what transport infrastructure they would like to see improved or provided.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Coun Brookes said: “When you do one of these consultation exercises, you never know what the turn out is going to be like.
“It was splendid to see such a packed house and it was great to see how much Droitwich people care about their town.
“There is such a strong community here.”
Coun Pam Davey, who chaired the meeting with Coun Brookes, said: “I was very impressed with the turn-out and the interest which the local residents showed in the project.
“I’m sure together, we can make vast improvements to Droitwich.”
Residents and business owners have until October 30 to comment on the proposals.
They can can visit www.worcestershire.gov.uk/droitwichspa to find out more about the intended works and have their say.
After October 30, the answers will be evaluated and a plan will be put together when a second consultation will be held to see what residents and business owners think of that.