The first phase of work designed to improve the overall experience and safety of residents and visitors in Windsor town centre will get underway next week.
The public realm improvements in Castle Hill and St Alban’s Street will see Castle Hill partially pedestrianised with a wider pavement on the southern (shops) side of the road, as well as a significant reduction in vehicle movements where this is limited to castle access only during its visiting hours.
This will improve the visitor experience to this area of town, helping to drive economic growth and spend, as well as provide additional safety benefits.
The first phase of work will begin on Monday 13 March on the northern (castle) side of Castle Hill and run until around May, with no work taking place during the Coronation Bank Holiday weekend. The plan for this phase is to retain, clean and repair if necessary the existing Yorkstone pavement and replace the road surface with a granite block finish. Access to Henry VIII gate and the advance gate will be retained.
From next Monday, a temporary one-way system up Castle Hill and down St Alban’s Street will be in place so that residential properties can still be accessed, and this will remain in place for the duration of the work. Vehicles making deliveries will be unable to stop and unload in Castle Hill during the work and drivers will instead need to park in nearby Thames Street, or High Street, or use the existing loading bays in Church Lane and Queen Charlotte Street.
The project will be carried out over four phases in total, in order to minimise disruption and, once completed, will include a protective gate behind the Queen Victoria statue to aid pedestrian safety, with bollards installed at the end of St Alban’s Street with its junction with Castle Hill, with two-way vehicle access from the junction with Park Street. The protective gate would be opened outside of castle visitor hours, meaning businesses on Castle Hill would still be able to receive deliveries.
A summer pause has been incorporated into the programme with, ideally, no works taking place during most of July and August and communication will take place with residents and businesses throughout the works to keep them updated.
The other three phases are as follows:
• The second phase, on the southern (shops) side of Castle Hill, will commence on completion of phase one. This will see the introduction of a far wider pavement with new Yorkstone paving as well as new high velocity vehicle mitigation measures and a gate. Access to businesses will be maintained with work taking place outside of opening hours where necessary
• Phase three, at the junction of Castle Hill and St Alban’s Street, is scheduled to start in September and consist of further granite laying, the introduction of bollards and a raised crossing point to the castle visitor entrance
• The final phase will commence on completion of phase three and will see the completion of pedestrian walkways either side of the carriageway down St Alban’s Street.
A public consultation saw the majority of respondents supporting the proposed design to make Castle Hill a pedestrian-first location with vehicular access restricted.
Councillor Phil Haseler, Cabinet Member for Planning, Parking, Highways & Transport, said: “This work directly supports our ambition of delivering the Windsor Public Realm project, outlined in our Corporate Plan, transforming Castle Hill into a pedestrian first zone, helping to improve safety and make the area more accessible for those on foot, as well as driving growth in our local economy. We know that this junction can be busy with pedestrians crossing, particularly during the peak summer tourist season, and that the pavements are narrow, and this scheme will result in a vast improvement.
“We want to improve the visitor experience in this area, thereby encouraging dwell time and increasing the number of people supporting our local businesses in the historic heart of our borough. I hope these changes lead to an increase in the amount of visitor spend within the town, benefiting businesses and the local economy.
“While I understand that any significant change to our highways network can bring some temporary disruption for road users and businesses in the vicinity, we strive to keep this to a minimum, and will be keeping residents and businesses updated as this project proceeds. The programme includes a summer break and no work will take place during the Bank Holiday weekend marking the King’s Coronation.”
The majority of funding for the project has come from the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, as well as developer contributions.