Long-awaited funding to allow a town’s main shopping area to reopen to vehicles on a permanent basis has finally been approved.
Last year, a traffic-free zone on Holywell High Street was lifted for the first time since 1992 in a bid to boost trade.
The six-month trial was hailed as a success by business owners, but a bid to the Welsh Government’s town regeneration fund to pay for improvements to the road proved unsuccessful.
Earlier this month, Flintshire Council pledged to plough on with work to upgrade the street regardless.
However, the Cardiff administration has now revealed it will provide £474,000 to support the scheme after it went to a ministerial decision.
Holywell councillor Ted Palmer, who runs a barbershop in the town, said it was a positive development for traders.
He said: “We’re absolutely over the moon with it and it’s something that the business group and myself have been working hard for over the past two years.
“We’ve had public consultations and done everything we can and all that hard work is now coming to fruition.
“I’ve always said that businesses do matter and since the trial period the street has come alive.
“The businesses have seen an improvement as before you could walk down the street and there would be nobody there.
“Now there are people, there are vehicles and there is movement.”
He expressed his thanks to the Welsh Government, Flintshire Council and Assembly Members for supporting the proposals.
It follows warnings from business owners in Holywell that they could fold if the street remained pedestrianised.
Work was originally set to begin on a scaled down version of the scheme next week, but it is now hoped the extra funding could allow the full plans to be realised.
The total cost of of de-pedestrianising it has been estimated at £800,000.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Holywell town centre is to benefit from a significant investment from the Welsh Government.
“The funding of £474,000 will go towards a scheme to enable vehicles to access the High Street, support cycle networks and bus infrastructure.
“There will also be improvements to shop frontages, new signage and an outdoor events space.
“The funding is in addition to £150,000 from the local transport fund and will also fund improved active travel links between the High Street and local areas including the Greenfield Valley active travel path which is already benefitting from nearly £1m from our active travel fund.”
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).