Civic leaders want Chippenham plan revisited

Sandy Webb reflects on the future of the Bridge Centre in Chippenham

Sandy Webb reflects on the future of the Bridge Centre in Chippenham

First published in Chippenham by , Senior reporter

CHIPPENHAM councillors are calling for a major rethink on the central Bath Road redevelopment.

A planning application was expected to be submitted two years ago for an upmarket retail developement connecting the site of the Bridge Centre with Bath Road, transforming the middle of the town.

Names on the table were Next, TK Maxx, Marks & Spencer Simply Food and Lidl. But with Next choosing to go out of town to Methuen Park, and TK Maxx following suit, anchor tenant M&S Simply Food, secured on a conditional basis, is likely to pull out.

Town councillor Sandy Webb, who runs a restaurant in the town centre, said: “In my opinion those councillors who voted for Next to go into the old Focus store should hang their heads in shame. It has condemned the town centre for future development.”

Wiltshire councillor Chris Caswill said: “TK Maxx getting planning permission at Methuen Park is a body blow to Chippenham.

"Wiltshire Council’s own policy is to give preference to the town centre; the core strategy has essentially been ridden rough-shod over.

“The first mistake was to allow Focus to split into three units. It was bitterly opposed by Chippenham Vision, Chamber of Commerce, Civic Society – everybody with an interest in the town centre.”

He feared the loss of prestigious names meant plans would be downgraded, leaving Chippenham with a cut-price complex in the centre of town.

Coun Caswill said: “Unless developers Peveril can come up with an alternative model which provides the high-quality boost to the town centre we all want, they ought to seriously look at calling it in. It is a disaster.”

The value the council gets for the land – cash earmarked for building Chippenham’s skate park – will depend on its end use.

Town councillor and Cherish Chippenham chair Melody Thompson said she would like to see developers Chippenham 2020 buy it.

She said: “It shouldn’t be used for a Hathaway retail park type of development. I don’t want to see naff tin sheds in the central place; I’d rather see something like St Stephen’s Place in Trowbridge, more grand buildings.

“I’d love to see a cinema right in the centre and more car parking spaces. I think we need more like 500 in the centre.”

Coun Webb suggested siting the proposed campus hub with youth services and a library there, and opening up the town centre to face the Brunel arches, which she said was one of the town’s greatest assets.

Comments (7)

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7:56am Mon 1 Sep 14

umpcah says...

The Bridge Centre area is a very busy one with traffic arriving via Avenue Fleche and Bath Road . Care not to make it any worse please !
The Bridge Centre area is a very busy one with traffic arriving via Avenue Fleche and Bath Road . Care not to make it any worse please ! umpcah
  • Score: 3

9:24am Mon 1 Sep 14

amoonraker says...

Just when are the so-called planners going to "get it" ??

All the stores mentioned in this article realised long ago that the average shopper uses his car - and their potential customers are heartily sick and tired of being ripped off by local councils when it come to town centre parking.
Given an opportunity the developers are always going to opt for out of town sites where they control the parking - and it is nearly always free.

It is the councils who are killing off the town centres - but they cannot stop blaming anyone but themselves.......
Just when are the so-called planners going to "get it" ?? All the stores mentioned in this article realised long ago that the average shopper uses his car - and their potential customers are heartily sick and tired of being ripped off by local councils when it come to town centre parking. Given an opportunity the developers are always going to opt for out of town sites where they control the parking - and it is nearly always free. It is the councils who are killing off the town centres - but they cannot stop blaming anyone but themselves....... amoonraker
  • Score: 26

10:38am Mon 1 Sep 14

kimcrawley says...

Spot on moonraker, quite why our visionary cabinet are unable to link outrageous parking charges with town centre footfall is bonkers. No doubt we will get a few consultation exercises in the future, then nothing will change-apart from Scott's pay/expenses/allowan
ces.
Spot on moonraker, quite why our visionary cabinet are unable to link outrageous parking charges with town centre footfall is bonkers. No doubt we will get a few consultation exercises in the future, then nothing will change-apart from Scott's pay/expenses/allowan ces. kimcrawley
  • Score: 11

1:59pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Paul Tucker says...

Why don't they put the skatepark there?
Why don't they put the skatepark there? Paul Tucker
  • Score: 6

2:15pm Mon 1 Sep 14

umpcah says...

The Bridge Centre site is an island with busy roads around it. How can a large store with suitable approaches and parking facilities be installed there ?
The Bridge Centre site is an island with busy roads around it. How can a large store with suitable approaches and parking facilities be installed there ? umpcah
  • Score: 3

3:15pm Mon 1 Sep 14

brandx says...

I never thought I would say this, but Trowbridge has much to teach Chippenham when it comes to commercial development.

The St Stephens site - cinema, hotel and eateries - there is doing good and highlights what can be done.
I never thought I would say this, but Trowbridge has much to teach Chippenham when it comes to commercial development. The St Stephens site - cinema, hotel and eateries - there is doing good and highlights what can be done. brandx
  • Score: 8

11:22am Tue 2 Sep 14

lordbuckethead says...

brandx wrote:
I never thought I would say this, but Trowbridge has much to teach Chippenham when it comes to commercial development.

The St Stephens site - cinema, hotel and eateries - there is doing good and highlights what can be done.
The St Stephens site is doing WELL, not 'doing good'

do you speeka da Engleeesh?
[quote][p][bold]brandx[/bold] wrote: I never thought I would say this, but Trowbridge has much to teach Chippenham when it comes to commercial development. The St Stephens site - cinema, hotel and eateries - there is doing good and highlights what can be done.[/p][/quote]The St Stephens site is doing WELL, not 'doing good' do you speeka da Engleeesh? lordbuckethead
  • Score: 1

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