Trowbridge free parking claims queried as Future High Street Fund plans take shape
Any plans would be subject to full consultation
Reports that Trowbridge is set to lose free parking in the multi-storey car park as a result of Wiltshire Council's bid for government funding from the Future High Streets Fund are somewhat premature.
Wiltshire Council has bid for £23m of government funding to help reinvigorate Trowbridge town centre with a range of projects to attract visitors and businesses in to the heart of the city and town.
However, funding has yet to be secured and if and when it is, any plans would be subject to full engagement and consultation before they went ahead.
Cllr Richard Clewer, Deputy Leader of Wiltshire Council, said: "We've submitted a bid for funding for Trowbridge town centre from the government's Future High Streets Fund.
"At present, we're in the early days of developing the scheme, so it is not correct to say that the town will lose free parking spaces as the result of the bid being submitted. We're looking at a number of possibilities that could help to transform Trowbridge town centre, and could secure the funding.
"Part of this is exploring options for redevelopment at Castle Place, but the criteria to gain funding is largely based on the ability to show increased visits to the town centre, rather than reducing it, and parking is part of that.
"If the bid is successful, this would represent more than £23m of investment into Trowbridge, which we think is a positive thing.
"However, none of the possible improvements will be delivered if we don't secure funding. And if we are successful in securing funding, there will be extensive public and stakeholder consultation on any schemes, which will include looking at parking needs in the town, alongside other considerations such as viability, sustainability, visitor numbers and conservation."
The Future High Streets fund is designed to respond to twin threats to town centres of online shopping and out of town shopping, and Wiltshire Council has submitted bids for Trowbridge and Salisbury.
The Trowbridge bid focuses on improving connections into the town centre; bringing more leisure, residential and culture activity into the town centre; making better use of vacant units; and accelerating the development of key sites in the town centre.
It would do this by creating an improved environment for businesses and visitors to Trowbridge's high street; encouraging independent businesses and start-ups to set up businesses in vacant properties; and creating safer, accessible pedestrian links along the river corridor from the town centre to the high street. Several options for achieving these will be sent to the government for consideration, and if approved, outline plans will be created in consultation with key stakeholders and the local community.