The future of Warwick open to debate

A LONDON-STYLE congestion charge, a cinema and tighter control on town centre development are just some of the options being offered to the people of Warwick.

At a meeting of the Warwick District Council executive committee on Wednesday night councillors voted in favour of the new options on the Warwick Town Centre Area Action Plan going to a public consultation.

The plan has been a long running and drawn out affair with difficulties arising from the partnership between the numerous organisations including Warwick Town Council, district council, and the Warwick Society.

Last summer the results of the first consultation were released, and the people of the town had highlighted key wishes for the future such as reducing traffic, protecting historic buildings, getting more shops rather than restaurants, more parking and attracting more visitors to the castle and racecourse.

In the new document, options for a way forward on all these issues have been put forward with some more drastic than others.

These options include increasing the number of shops through new developments, increasing the range of visitor accommodation, building a small town centre cinema, getting funding to renovate and use historic buildings, promote energy efficiency, and introducing a virtual park and ride which would increase buses to car parks on the edge of town.

However, the suggestion which could have the biggest impact is to start charging drivers to enter the town in a bid to reduce congestion. Traffic problems have long been a thorn in the side of Warwick, which as a historic town was not built with vehicle use in mind.

This change would tackle the problem revealed by the last report which said that the air quality in certain parts of the town was poisonous and causing damage to historic buildings.

At the executive meeting Cllr Les Caborn (Con, Lapworth) said: “It’s been a difficult journey but we are slowly getting there - and after much debate, these are the options to go out for further consultation.

“We need to get on and move it forward at a better pace and put some harder facts and figures on the table.”

The paper will be published next month to start the 12 week consultation.