Consultation period for £750,000 Harleston regeneration project closes
The consultation period for how £750,000 will be spent to regenerate Harleston town centre drew to a close this week.
The project, funded by South Norfolk Council (SNC), Norfolk County Council and the town council, has promised to reinforce the priorities of reducing through traffic and creating a better environment for shopping.
Last week, the leader of SNC, Councillor John Fuller, promised that the new initiative would transform the town centre into more than just a space for buying goods.
Speaking to Park Radio on Friday, Cllr Fuller said: “Shopping habits are changing; people don’t just go in to town just to shop, they like to dwell around.
“There’s more space for enjoying oneself rather than just the simple transactions of buying stuff.
“We want to create a much more welcoming public realm and a multi-purpose space.
“It’s really important that we keep on-street car parking, and that the roads are kept open – but if we have to close the road in the summer for a food festival and antiques fair, whilst having wider pavements for people to sit outside whilst the sun is shining, I think Harleston will be better, and we can’t get stuck in the past.”
“Shopping is changing, society is changing, we all need to move with the times.
“By next summer, I hope people will see the benefits in us putting our money where our mouth is and helping Harleston get up to date.”
The project stems from the need, during the Covid-19 pandemic, to create a reduction in through traffic in the town centre and now a multi stakeholder project board has produced a plan for a more permanent series of improvements.
Suggested changes to the Market Place, Exchange Street, the Thoroughfare and Broad Street will see some relocation of parking places giving more direct access to the busy retail areas.
Reduced carriageways will slow traffic and make the town centre safer for pedestrians, while wider pavements and the introduction of planters and benches will all add to the improved streetscape and make the town centre a better place to live, work and spend time.
Sue Kuzmic, who runs Enchanted Corner gift shop in The Thoroughfare, welcomed the project.
She said: “I think it’s a great idea. If it’s going to make it easier for customers to shop, it’s got to be a good thing.
“It’s nice to have the district council taking notice of Harleston, and wanting to do something to improve the town.”