Unveiled: the bold new vision for Hexham town centre

SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

THE future of Hexham Market Place could be staring you in the face.

For, among these four initial designs, are dozens of features suggested to improve the historic heart of the town during a public consultation which ran last summer.

Now, with these proposals as a starting point, round two of the consultation is under way, with residents, traders, workers and visitors encouraged to have their say.

Drawn up by charity Sustrans, the ideas are part of a project aimed at rejuvenating the Market Place and town centre, in partnership with Hexham Town Council and Northumberland County Council.

The proposals range from renovating the existing space to pedestrianising the whole area.

Design one is described as a renovation of the Market Place and would involve the installation of 'gateways' that serve as entrances.

Moving the entrance to the Market Place car parking spaces to allow for improved access for visitors arriving from Hallgate via the Moot Hall, along with new crossing points, is also suggested.

The second design suggests rearranging the parking, reprioritising the junction and pedestrianising Hallstile Bank. Moving the car parking to the roadside is also suggested to allow for a permanent market space and parking bays that would not need to be suspended on market days.

The third idea pedestrianises Hallstile Bank and Market Street but maintains Market Place parking.

And, finally, the fourth suggestion fully pedestrianises the Market Place and surrounding streets, leaving the town centre free for use during public events, but maintaining access and loading arrangements for homes and businesses.

Martin Podevyn, senior urban designer at Sustrans said: "We have listened to the residents and visitors of Hexham and captured as much information as we can on how people use the streets in and around the Market Place.

"We are thrilled at the amount of feedback that the website generated. There was some excellent dialogue and valuable information about the kinds of changes that people would like to see."

The project has already included five events around Hexham Market Place to gather views about how people currently use the space.

Sustrans also carried out transport surveys to better understand traffic patterns and pedestrian movement in the town centre.

The additional feedback gathered in the latest phase will be worked into the proposals over the coming months before a preferred design is drawn up and put to the public.

Mayor of Hexham, Coun. Tom Gillanders, said: "It is essential to involve people that live and use the Market Place in its design so that we can all be part of how we use it in the future."

The plans can be viewed in detail on the project website at hexhammarketplace.stickyworld.com and designers will be attending market days in Hexham and hosting stalls on June 24 and July 1.

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