Chunk of market square to be pedestrianised in Oxfordshire town
Wantage businesses have reacted to the decision to permanently pedestrianise a chunk of Market Place.
The town council’s bid to permanently prohibit vehicles and remove parking spaces in the western section of the market square was approved by Oxfordshire County Council on March 23.
The area – which also includes the southern end of Alfred Street and the northern end of Church Street – has been temporarily pedestrianised since July 2020.
READ MORE: Bid to run taxi business out of Wantage phone shop withdrawn
Carrie Williams, who owns Creations gift shop, said: “It’s really good for us because we are right on the bit where people normally park.
“It’s definitely a benefit because we get more business. There’s more people being able to walk around down here and before it was just a big car park.”
Janet Coleman, who runs coleman&coleman jewellery store, described the pedestrianisation as a “mixed bag”.
“There are pros and cons,” she said. ““We don’t see some of the elderly community because they can’t get their cars up here.
“There’s certainly a lot of people when the sun is out and this area seems to rock and roll on the weekend. But it a very short-lived experience.”
Rob Corlett, owner of Dolphin Gallery, said he had lost customers because they were no longer able to park outside his business.
He said: “Customers are constantly bringing in artwork for framing or restoration. Artwork is valuable and delicate, and they don’t want to be carrying it 300 yards from the car park.”
The town council has had ambitions to pedestrianise the area since 2018.
It was able to introduce the changes in July 2020 on a temporary 18-month basis to help with social distancing during the covid pandemic.
When this period ended in January 2022, the county council allowed it to be extended a further 18-months.
A consultation was started at this time on whether it should be introduced permanently. Of the 193-response received, 53 per cent were in support while 22 per cent were objections.
Following the consultation, it was decided that the two disabled person's parking places would be retained following concerns.
At a meeting on March 23, town clerk Bill Falkenau said: “Few schemes are given such a lengthy period of test.
“No major issues or problems have emerged. Whilst there some loose ends, there is agreement that these can be dealt with.”
Town councillor Jenny Hannaby said pedestrianisation helped to run events such as French and German artisan markets.
She said: “We’re just trying to make it a town that people would want to come and visit in a different way.
Cllr Andrew Gant, cabinet member for highways management, said he was “really delighted” to approve the scheme.