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Survey shows what shoppers want from Newbury Town Centre

A survey of shoppers in Newbury by the Town Council and Newbury Business Improvement District has revealed what people want from the Town Centre.

Shoppers were asked in July online and face-to-face what changes to the town centre would encourage them to visit more often to shop, and these are some of the highlights:

  • 28% would like more independent outlets, focussed on independent shops, to differentiate us more from nearby big centres

  • 22% would like cheaper parking, with a total of 71% wanting free parking for the first 1 or 2 hours.

  • 16% would like changes to the market, with 50% wanting a wider variety of stalls on Thursdays and Saturdays, 29% more farmers / artisan markets, and 20% a covered market area. Several people suggested moving the market to Northbrook Street to drive footfall.

  • 13% would like more big-name outlets, again focussed on shops with Primark and Iceland getting the most individual call-outs

  • There were many who suggested more activity / entertainment venues to draw people to the town centre, especially given the ever-increasing growth of online shopping The response to the temporary 24-hour pedestrianisation were as follows:

  • When asked whether the 24 hour vehicle ban had made any difference to their experience of getting to the town centre and of shopping/eating/drinks, 43% said it had made no difference, 31% said it was better and 26% said it was worse

  • Among those who said it was better, the key reason was that the lack of vehicles meant it was safe and felt more relaxed

  • Among those who said it was worse, the main concern was traffic on the A339 and longer journey times around town.

When asked what they would like to happen when the 24-hour vehicle ban was lifted, the result was very finely balanced:

  • Overall, 45% said they would like to revert to the original 10am to 5pm regime, 38% said they would like to keep it permanent, 13% would like extended the vehicle-free hours vs the original regime. The remaining 4% covered minor points

  • Among those who visit the town centre more regularly, 49% said they would like to make the 24-hour vehicle ban permanent, with 34% wanting to revert to the original regime, 8% would like extended the vehicle-free hours vs the original regime. The remaining 9% covered minor points

  • Among those who wanted to revert to the original scheme, the main reason was concern about traffic flow in the town particularly at rush hour, plus ease of deliveries for shops, access for blue badge holders and the ability to pick up a few things on the way through town

  • Among those who wanted the 24-hour vehicle ban to stay, the main reasons were the more relaxed, safer atmosphere, and the prospect of more outdoor seating for cafes, restaurants and pubs.

  • There were some interesting suggestions such as a different regime with longer hours of pedestrianisation at the weekends when there is no rush hour, and permanent pedestrianisation of the Market Place.

The results also showed a significant opportunity for more active travel: 72% of those surveyed live within 3 miles of the town centre, yet only 46% walked or cycled into town, and only 2% used public transport to get to Newbury.

Cllr Martin Colston, Leader of Newbury Town Council said, “I’m delighted that so many people shared their views on pedestrianisation and the future of the town centre. 468 people is a significant sample and means the results are both robust and credible. Our new Town Centre Working Group will use the results to determine its areas of focus and initial plans.”

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