Work designed to improve the overall experience and safety of residents and visitors in Windsor town centre is set to begin this spring.
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.
A protective gate will be installed behind the Queen Victoria statue to aid pedestrian safety, and bollards will also be 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.
These improvements should make the area more enjoyable and accessible for both residents and visitors as the work includes elements such as new dropped kerbs and raised tables to improve accessibility for those with mobility difficulties.
The work will be delivered in four phases in order to minimise disruption, starting in March. 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 businesses throughout the works to keep them updated.
The phases are as follows:
- Work on the northern (castle) side of Castle Hill is scheduled to start in mid-March and run until around May with the plan 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
- 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 complete in November, 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: “These proposals directly support 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.
“Given the importance of the summer tourist period to the Windsor economy, the programme includes a summer break and works will also pause during the Bank Holiday weekend marking the King’s Coronation so that any events and celebrations can go ahead without any potential disruption.”
Cabinet agreed last night (Thursday) to approve the delivery of the improvements and the decision is subject to the standard call-in period. The majority of funding for the project has come from the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, as well as developer contributions.