The long-awaited Hucknall town centre improvement scheme is set to go ahead, after £8.5m of funding was approved by the Department for Transport.
The investment will mean that Hucknall can look forward to a revitalised town centre, with sections of the High Street pedestrianised, and new roads and junctions to reduce congestion in the town.
Work is due to start on the £12.9 million project in August 2015 and is expected to be finished in January 2017. The remainder of the cost will be funded by Nottinghamshire Country Council (NCC).
Baroness Kramer, who made the DfT announcement on Monday, said: “Good public transport is vitally important for creating jobs and it makes a town more attractive for residents and visitors. This funding will help regenerate Hucknall town centre and is a further demonstration of this government’s commitment to building stronger local economies with fast, reliable transport links.”
Chris Baron, leader of Ashfield District Council (ADC), said: “Housing developments around Hucknall have put more pressure on the existing infrastructure so any extra funding to make life better for residents is most welcome. It is very good news.”
The scheme aims to reduce congestion, create an attractive shopping centre, attract new retailers and promote the regeneration of Hucknall.
The scheme will also incorporate flood relief measures designed to improve some of the problems that have been experienced in the town in recent years.
A new road from Station Road/Ashgate Road to Baker Street/Annesley Road will be built, taking thousands of vehicles a day away from the high street. This will allow a pedestrian zone to be created along the high street between Baker Street and Watnall Road, providing a safe and attractive environment for pedestrians, including wheelchair users.
Sandy Singleton, chairman of ‘We Love Hucknall’, predicted that traders in Hucknall would have a tough time during the works, and would need local support: “Pedestrianisation has been on the statue books for 60-odd years. As long as it’s done with a little bit of consideration for the shopkeepers - they need to be told well in advance.
“We are jolly lucky we have a High Street and long may it continue. We want people to spend their money locally. If it comes in under budget it will be even better! We don’t want any shops going out of business.”
Coun Jim Aspinall, portfolio holder for Prosperity at ADC, said: “This is excellent news. Our commitment to regenerating all of the town centre is well publicised and this is a massive milestone towards realising our aspiration.
“I am very excited about this major investment which will make Hucknall High Street an even better place to shop as well as reducing traffic congestion and flooding.”
Sheila Robinson, chair of the Hucknall Tourism and Regeneration Group, said: “That is good news. It has been on the cards for 70 years. It has been going on and on for too long. With all the news houses being built we need something to bypass the town centre.
“We have a bypass around Hucknall which used to clear a lot of the traffic. But because the speed limit has been reduced from 70mph to 40mph, a lot of drivers just use the town.”