For the last nine months i’ve been working with independent businesses in the newly formed Artisan Quarter of Chippenham. The Artisan Quarter forms the triangle between the Brunel Railway arches, the top of New Road to Octoprint, and the border of John Coles Park and Marshfield Road.
The initiative has been ground up from businesses. One of the main thrusts has been to improve the area as you exit the station on the side of Hathaway retail Park. There are a surprising number of independent businesses in this area, many of whom go back generations in Chippenham. Yet there are also gaps appearing in the row of shops, and though the buildings are historic, the area is a little grey and unloved, with heavy traffic.
One of the main ideas has been to improve the civic amenity by greening the area somewhat. I’ve agreed provisionally with Town Council officers that they will extend their hanging baskets up New Road next year, and the businesses will also take on board the scheme.
I have been a member of the Town Council Planning committee representing Hardens and Central Ward for the last two years, and am currently vice Chair of the committee. One of the key improvements which I supported through Town Council Planning this week was making Union Road a one way street, allowing a cycle route on one side and possible planters or pavement improvements. This is the first stage of a joint process with Wiltshire Council known as the Local Highways and Footpath Improvement Group (LHFIG). Richard from Artel 31 architects had proposed the scheme and drew up a suggestion as to how it could work, which he presented at the Town Council Planning meeting this week. The scheme was unanimously supported to go to the next stage.
We’ve also explored where businesses could possibly place planters in the quarter, and the provision of more cycle racks. There is a longer term plan to secure government money to add a cycle lane to New Road itself via the Local Cycling Walking Improvement Partnership (LCWIP) and this was supported as a priority route by the Town Council at the previous Planning meeting.
As you can imagine some of these are long processes, but you have to start somewhere and the businesses are really driving this with gusto!