Pedestrianisation of Meneage Street is becoming increasingly likely after receiving the support of a large number of Helston traders and residents.
Four out of the five discussion groups that took part in a consultation event last Wednesday were in favour of the radical move, which would significantly alter the shopping heart of the town.
More than 60 people were involved in the two and a half hour session, which marked the launch of a larger consultation looking at how the town wants a £250,000 pot of money from Tesco and Sainsbury’s to be spent.
While many more events still have to take place, with businesses and residents also to be spoken to on a one-to-one basis, pedestrianisation was among the front runners at the end of the initial ideas evening.
Town regeneration officer Martin Searle confirmed that he would be speaking to other towns in the area such as Falmouth, which had already pedestrianised part of its main street, to get feedback on success rates.
Although not a new idea, having been mooted on and off for the last 30 to 40 years, the recent economic problems nationally have resurrected it as an option.
Neil Higgs, former landlord of The Bell and now in The Rodney, claimed in a snap survey he carried out on businesses and residents in Meneage Street just three people out of 80 did not want it pedestrianised.
Ex town councillor Keith Reynolds said when the street was shut for six weeks during sewage works three years ago one businessman he knew reported a rise in trade of 30 per cent, which dropped again once the road reopened.
Not all were in favour, however, with local historian Martin Matthews believing pedestrianisation would “kill Helston.”
Yet David Harris claimed: “The conservation officer and parking is what’s killing Helston.”
Another popular idea was adding herringbone bone parking into Coinagehall Street, to create more free spaces in the town centre, and potentially doubling the time limit to an hour.
This suggestion had already been made at a previous consultation about the money and received universal support last Wednesday.
Coinagehall Street was the focus of other ideas that included a zebra crossing being added to make it easier to cross the town’s widest street. It was noted that 182 buses travelled along there each day.
A more radical suggestion for the long term was to take buses away from the street altogether and create a bus station elsewhere.
Schemes that raised a few eyebrows included filling in the kennels outside Lloyds Bank in order to make more use of that area and relocating the cannon outside the museum to elsewhere in the town for similar reasons, which received a mixed reaction – a number of people in favour while others gasped at the thought.
What did receive general agreement, however, was that better signs showing visitors to and from the car parks were needed, together with information boards or even a rolling digital version.
Linking Helston Museum with the Passmore Edwards Institute in Penrose Road received similar support, with Market Place described as the focal point of the town.
It was suggested markets could be moved to the former drill yard and a tourist information centre set up in the museum entrance – although the top of Trengrouse Way was also proposed for this.
Creating a town trail, encouraging “pop up” shops and restaurants in empty shops and setting up a shuttle bus to ferry shoppers to and from car parks away from the centre – even potentially working with Tesco and Sainsbury’s in a mutually beneficial partnership – were other ideas put forward.
The next public meeting is likely to take place towards the end of January.