Town centre to recieve retail boost

THE main shopping area of Essex's county town will be “taken to a new level” after planning chiefs gave the thumbs up to a new vision for its future.

Elliot Furniss

THE main shopping area of Essex's county town will be “taken to a new level” after planning chiefs gave the thumbs up to a new vision for its future.

A guiding strategy for developing and improving Chelmsford's town centre was formally adopted at a meeting this week.

The borough council will now press ahead with the scheme, which could see an extra 100,000 square metres used for retail.

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The move follows a “full and rigorous” examination of the proposed Chelmsford Town Centre Area Action Plan by the Government's independent planning inspector, which gave its backing in a recent report.

Neil Gulliver, the council's head of communities, welcomed the adoption of the plan and said it was a “great achievement” for Chelmsford.

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He said: “The town centre already offers excellent shopping, business and transport links and this plan will take that to a new level.

“The plan sets out a strategy to drive development and improvement, leading to an exciting period of change.

“It also aims to drive sustainable growth, where economic prosperity can be achieved alongside social inclusion and environmental responsibility.”

The action plan sets out a vision and framework for the next 13 years and allocates land for development, makes proposals for transport infrastructure and public space improvements and sets out how best to make it happen.

The area in question is approximately one kilometre in radius from Chelmsford Cathedral, covering the main shopping area in the High Street, the West End and Moulsham Street neighbourhoods, Central Park, Anglia Ruskin University and Chelmer Waterside.

Mr Gulliver said the action plan was a “vital component” of the council's approach to planning in the borough.

“It has been prepared in full consultation with the local community and stakeholders over nearly two years, and will support the town centre as the council strives to achieve its vision for the future of the borough,” he said.

The action plan also offers a clear guide for car parking in the town and proposes a new cycle and pedestrian path network to help cut town centre traffic.

Chelmsford Borough Council is one of only a dozen local authorities in the country to have had such a plan approved by the Government.

The proposals now become part of the statutory development plan for Chelmsford and will be used to determine future planning applications.

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