A new road which council chiefs hope will “set up Hucknall for years to come” is now open to traffic.
Members of the community joined guests from Nottinghamshire County Council, Via East Midlands and Ashfield District Council for Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony at the junction of the new road with Annesley Road.
Nottinghamshire County Council Leader Alan Rhodes told the gathered audience that it is hoped the new road will be named Torkard Way. It would reflect local heritage because from 1295 to 1915, the town was known as Hucknall Torkard, taken from Torcard, the name of a well- known landowning family.
Councillor Rhodes said: “It’s a great honour as Leader of the County Council to see another major transport project coming to fruition. The opening of Phase One of this scheme follows on the back of the success of the Worksop Bus Station which opened last year in addition to the nearby Rolls Royce development and the improvements to the A57, a key A1/M1 link which are nearing completion.
“I’m delighted that the County Council continues to deliver infrastructure projects which make a positive difference to local residents and businesses. I am confident that we will continue to enhance our reputation as an organisation able to work with all partners to deliver projects of local and regional significance.
“This project is designed to set the town up for many years to come, to offer new opportunities and hopefully help create a healthy sustainable town centre that residents and business people can be proud of.”
The new road links Annesley Road and Baker Street to the east of Hucknall with Station Road, and is the latest key step of the scheme, which will ultimately see the High Street pedestrianised between Baker Street and Watnall Road. Project works began in January 2016 and are expected to be completed in early summer 2017.
The road opening also incorporates a new bus link (including new shelters and real time information) with services including the 141, Amberline and “The Threes” stopping at this location.
Councillor Kevin Greaves, Committee Chairman for Transport and Highways at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We are extremely pleased to be celebrating the completion of Phase One of the Hucknall Town Centre Improvement Scheme. It is a massive investment in the town, and the road design is a remarkable feat of engineering. This project will also promote public transport and improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.”
The Hucknall Town Centre Improvement Scheme is being managed by Via East Midlands on behalf of the County Council with Carillion Tarmac as the main contractor. Nottinghamshire County Council is investing around £3.144m in the Hucknall Improvement Scheme, which complements £8.49m from the Department for Transport and £1.35m from Ashfield District Council.
Leader of Ashfield District Council, Councillor Cheryl Butler said: “I am delighted that Hucknall’s Inner Relief Road is completed helping to alleviate issues with traffic in the town centre. I am looking forward to the second phase of the project which will see part of the High Street pedestrianised. The new paving and street furniture will provide an attractive new area for shoppers and visitors to come and enjoy. Relocating Hucknall’s Market onto the High Street and providing smart new pop-up stalls will also help to draw people into the town to support the local shops and businesses.”
The next phase of the scheme to take place over the next few months will see the High Street pedestrianised between Baker Street and Watnall Road. This will help to improve the shopping experience in the town by creating an attractive spacious centre with trees and benches.
some business owners and residents have criticised the scheme, claiming it has created trafic gridlock and will not regenerate the town in the way it is intended.
But Stephanie Paulson, owner of Goldfinger Jewellers, in Baker Street, Hucknall, said: “Our business has been open since 1981 and the possibility of this road was being discussed even then. This development means our premises is now on the corner of the new road. We are looking forward to the opening and hope the scheme can be really good for Hucknall.”
Emma and Mark Allison, of The Sweet Café, in High Street, Hucknall, also welcome the development. Emma said: “We hope the scheme will be really positive for the town. The local community is very loyal and supportive of the shops and businesses throughout the town centre and we hope that pedestrianisation will make the area safer and that the overall scheme and transport improvements benefit everyone for years to come.”