The ERA commissioned Thomas Davies of Helyer Davies (Architects based in Emsworth) to conduct a review and produce a drawing which would be a basis for discussion, consultation, and hopefully some action, to improve the centre of Emsworth. Davies’s key proposals were to enlarge the pedestrian area in St Peter’s Square, to make the High Street and Queen Street one-way through the town, and to improve the facilities in the South Street car park, including re-siting the public toilets.
The benefits of extra pedestrian space in St Peter’s Square are seen at the Farmers’ Markets and occasional special events. We believe this would help our businesses as well as our residents. A one-way system would allow the widening of pavements and a possible cycle path. It would preserve short term parking and allow shops to receive deliveries.
These ideas have as yet made very little progress. An informal consultation conducted through The Ems found significant opposition to the idea of a one-way system, and changes to the South Street car park would inevitably involve a lengthy and complex project. However, the proposed changes to St Peter’s Square should be quite simple to achieve, and we will continue to work with our Councillors to find the resources to carry them out.
When thinking about the Town Centre the elephant in the room is the growth of traffic on the A259 and the way it divides the town. The proposal in the Neighbourhood Plan for a Civic Square may be in the ‘too difficult to handle’ tray, but it would transform the town and should not be forgotten.
Thomas Davies has also reviewed the North Street area and the idea of a ‘community hub’ incorporating the Community Centre, Surgery and Museum as well as the churches. His review emphasised the need for a safe crossing to the Surgery, and this issue remains on the ERF’s list of priority projects.