The first drawings of what the future of Halifax town centre could look like have been released and will see a major road scheme overhaul with more pedestrian friendly areas and restricted access for vehicles.
The proposals have been put together and will be delivered in conjunction with the Halifax town centre delivery plan which identified current problems.
Over 40 per cent of vehicles entering the town centre simply pass through, adding nothing to the economy of Halifax and contributing to congestion and air quality issues.
Issues have also been raised about the current bus station site and buses accessing the town centre.
There are currently around 70 bus departures per hour from Halifax bus station, with around 144 departures per hour from on-street facilities (approximately 70 per cent of which do not serve the bus station at all). As a result of on-street stops, the bus station is currently underutilised.
There is also poor rail station accessibility with limited bus use due to a weight restriction, limited turning space and lack of layover facilities on the station access bridge.
Over the last full five years (April 2010 -April 2015) there have been 178 road accidents within the town centre. Of these there were no fatal accidents, 22 serious accidents and 156 slight accidents.
The West Yorkshire Transport fund proposal for Halifax Town Centre aims to address current issues and expand development opportunities within the town centre through the creation of an Eastern Loop Road including a station gateway and the remodelling of Church Street. This would be done by creating a modified eastern route for traffic, allowing expansion of the town centre and improving access to key development sites including Cripplegate and Bailey Hall.
It would also develop a new public space adjacent to Square Chapel and the new Library. This work will also include accessibility/arrival improvements at the rail station to ensure strong linkages with the new public square.
This will be achieved by removal of all traffic from much of the existing rail bridge, with only disabled parking and possibly taxi pick-up/drop-off remaining along the northern edge. A new bus stop at the lower level is being proposed, immediately to the north of the existing rail bridge, together with a new walkway underneath the bridge to meet the existing staircase, providing access between levels. Junction improvements are proposed at Horton Street, Square Road and Discovery Road, focused around enhanced pedestrian crossings, but with progression for through traffic.
A Western Loop Road, including North Bridge gateway and changes to the bus station site, is also aimed at diverting traffic around the town centre. This will introduce major changes to the town centre bus network, allowing pedestrianisation of Market Street and other town centre links to increase footfall and commercial viability of existing and new sites
Proposals for the bus station provide additional floor space for development adjacent to the Northgate House site, as well as a direct frontage onto Northgate.
This phase also provides a new Northern Gatewayto address connectivity issues between the town centre, Dean Clough and North Bridge Leisure Centre. This will be done by road narrowing, pedestrian crossing improvements, footway widening and public realm works at North Bridge. New bus stops near key town centre attractions at Square Road and Broad Street will be introduced.