Vi­sion ready to un­lock town’s vast po­ten­tial

Halifax Courier - - News Special - By Ian Hirst

The first draw­ings of what the fu­ture of Hal­i­fax town cen­tre could look like have been re­leased and will see a ma­jor road scheme over­haul with more pedes­trian friendly ar­eas and re­stricted ac­cess for ve­hi­cles. The pro­pos­als have been put to­gether and will be de­liv­ered in con­junc­tion with the Hal­i­fax town cen­tre de­liv­ery plan which iden­ti­fied cur­rent prob­lems.

Over 40 per cent of ve­hi­cles en­ter­ing the town cen­tre sim­ply pass through, adding noth­ing to the econ­omy of Hal­i­fax and con­tribut­ing to con­ges­tion and air qual­ity is­sues.

Is­sues have also been raised about the cur­rent bus sta­tion site and buses ac­cess­ing the town cen­tre.

There are cur­rently around 70 bus de­par­tures per hour from Hal­i­fax bus sta­tion, with around 144 de­par­tures per hour from on-street fa­cil­i­ties (ap­prox­i­mately 70 per cent of which do not serve the bus sta­tion at all). As a re­sult of on­street stops, the bus sta­tion is cur­rently un­der­utilised.

There is also poor rail sta­tion ac­ces­si­bil­ity with lim­ited bus use due to a weight re­stric- tion, lim­ited turn­ing space and lack of lay­over fa­cil­i­ties on the sta­tion ac­cess bridge.

Over the last full five years (April 2010 -April 2015) there have been 178 road ac­ci­dents within the town cen­tre. Of th­ese there were no fa­tal ac­ci­dents, 22 se­ri­ous ac­ci­dents and 156 slight ac­ci­dents.

The West York­shire Trans­port fund pro­posal for Hal­i­fax Town Cen­tre aims to ad­dress cur­rent is­sues and ex­pand de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties within the town cen­tre through the cre­ation of an East­ern Loop Road in­clud­ing a sta­tion gate­way and the re­mod­elling of Church Street. This would be done by cre­at­ing a mod­i­fied east­ern route for traf­fic, al­low­ing ex­pan­sion of the town cen­tre and im­prov­ing ac­cess to key de­vel­op­ment sites in­clud­ing Crip­ple­gate and Bai­ley Hall.

It would also de­velop a new pub­lic space ad­ja­cent to Square Chapel and the new Li­brary. This work will also in­clude ac­ces­si­bil­ity/ar­rival im­prove­ments at the rail sta­tion to en­sure strong link­ages with the new pub­lic square.

This will be achieved by re­moval of all traf­fic from much of the ex­ist­ing rail bridge, with only dis­abled park­ing and pos­si­bly taxi pick- up/ drop-off re­main­ing along the north­ern edge. A new bus stop at the lower level is be­ing pro­posed, im­me­di­ately to the north of the ex­ist­ing rail bridge, to­gether with a new walk­way un­der­neath the bridge to meet the ex­ist­ing stair­case, pro­vid­ing ac­cess be­tween lev­els. Junc­tion im­prove­ments are pro­posed at Hor­ton Street, Square Road and Dis­cov­ery Road, fo­cused around en­hanced pedes­trian cross­ings, but with pro­gres­sion for through traf­fic.

A Western Loop Road, in­clud­ing North Bridge gate­way and changes to the bus sta­tion site, is also aimed at di­vert­ing traf­fic around the town cen­tre. This will in­tro­duce ma­jor changes to the town cen­tre bus net­work, al­low­ing pedes­tri­an­i­sa­tion of Mar­ket Street and other town cen­tre links to in­crease foot­fall and com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity of ex­ist­ing and new sites

Pro­pos­als for the bus sta­tion pro­vide ad­di­tional floor space for de­vel­op­ment ad­ja­cent to the North­gate House site, as well as a di­rect frontage onto North­gate.

This phase also pro­vides a new North­ern Gate­wayto ad­dress con­nec­tiv­ity is­sues be­tween the town cen­tre, Dean Clough and North Bridge Leisure Cen­tre. This will be done by road nar­row­ing, pedes­trian cross­ing im­prove­ments, foot­way widen­ing and pub­lic realm works at North Bridge. New bus stops near key town cen­tre at­trac­tions at Square Road and Broad Street will be in­tro­duced.

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