PLANS to revamp Monmouth’s main shopping street have been agreed by the county council – but funding which could run to millions of pounds still has to be found.
The intention is to improve and widen the pavement on Monnow Street, and add more crossings and new planting which will also serve as drainage where large puddles form after heavy rainfall.
Part of the work is also to rectify temporary measures introduced in 2020 to aid with social distancing during the Covid pandemic, but which has left uneaven pavements and temporary street furniture.
The street will remain open to two-way traffic, but the intention is it will also be safer for cyclists, while Monmouthshire Council says there will only be a small reduction in the number of on-street parking spaces, with more loading bays added in response to demand from traders.
Talks have been ongoing with business in the town, and members of the public had the chance to have their say during consultations which closed earlier this year.
The county council’s ruling Labour cabinet, in its final meeting before a coalition with the Green Party was announced, agreed to adopt the plans and for the council’s regeneration manager to seek funding. The council has said that cost as much as £6 million.
Council deputy leader Cllr Paul Griffiths said that athough the council appeared to be looking at the regeneration of Monnow Street in isolation to the rest of the town he said it has had to act quickly: have previously bee
“In response to the pandemic the council put in place emergency and temporary measures, they were never intended to be permanent and they will deteriorate and will do so relatively quickly.”
He said the council’s survey had established support for the plan but acknowledged “that doesn’t mean we have found the perfect answer or full support across the town” but told his colleagues: “I’m recommending to you we’ve sufficient backing from the people of Monmouth to go ahead.”
But he warned them: “It is not a panacea, this will not solve all the challenges facing the beautiful town of Monmouth.”
Indeed, the plans have been met with disquiet by some town centre business people, saying it will damage trade, with Chamber of Commerce chair Sherren McCabe-Finlayson posting in February that it had “huge concerns regarding the Monnow Street proposal”.
“Many of the businesses that took part in the workshops felt that they weren’t being listened to by the consulting team, made their comments, and left, not prepared to enter into any further dialogue and leaving expression of their collective views to me.
“I appreciate that the consultants state that they have most of the businesses in support of their plans, but that is not the unsolicited feedback I am getting.”
But Monmouth Town ward member Cllr Catherine Fooks, in her last meeting of the cabinet before stepping down from the executive, said: “As ward member for Monnow Street it does really feel to me it is now Monmouth’s time... it’s good to have this investment in the high street and the report shows young people really liked the scheme and the road will be safer.”