Pedestrianisation plan revealed for road in Westcliff

Half of Hamlet Court Road in Westcliff could be closed to traffic to encourage more walkers and create a cafe culture area, it has been revealed.

Maxine Sadza, Labour councillor for Milton ward, said talks were underway to explore the partial pedestrianisation of the city’s second High Street.

Cllr Sadza was speaking at a Southend City Council policy and resources scrutiny committee meeting on Wednesday where a proposal to build up to eight homes on part of a car park in Hamlet Court Road was discussed.

She said: “I do understand the concern of businesses to ensure that they will have parking but having more housing will increase the number of people going down Hamlet Court Road.

“It’s being regenerated. We’ve seen more businesses going in and that’s hopeful but there has also been some discussion about actually closing off half of Hamlet Court Road to traffic. That’s for future decision by council members.”

Andy Atkinson, chairman of the Milton Society said: “We have written to the council calling for pedestrian priority in Hamlet Court Road so we would be in support of the scheme.

“Obviously there has to be consultation with traders but from our point of view there are so many examples around the country of successfully pedestrianised and shared space schemes that we think the road is currently up for it.

“I imagine they might be thinking about the top part. The things I’ve seen in Europe are where roads are pedestrianised but they have limited vehicle access so it’s a shared space and that could easily happen in Hamlet Court Road. Vehicles still get down there for the purposes of delivery.”

Mr Atkinson added: “You’d give the street back to the people. You’d have increased footfall. You’d make it much more accessible. Maybe businesses could open up onto the street so you could have café culture.

Gaynor Solly, from the Westcliff Partnership, which is hoping to form a Business Improvement District for the road, said: “In terms of pedestrianisation, it’s certainly not decided.

“It’s just one of the ideas. They can be a mixed blessing. In some towns I’ve been to they are just an invitation for people to hang around and skateboard.

“I feel safer in a street with cars coming and going because it polices itself more.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter