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Brentwood High Street revamp 'too slow'

By This is Essex  |  Posted: June 18, 2008

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DELAYS to the £3m redevelopment of Brentwood High Street have been blasted – on the eve of a major policy summit.

A key campaigner has accused planners of being “slower than a tortoise”.

And he claims that the scheme has rumbled on for so long – more than five years – that the public has lost interest.

Save Brentwood Action Group secretary Gerry Bender said: “A nice picture of a tortoise would sum it up. In fact a tortoise would probably move faster.

“It is slow – incredibly slow. In Romford they have built a new hospital, knocked the old one down and built seven blocks of flats in less time than it has taken us to get a junction improvement, traffic calming measures and the other High Street improvements.”

Mr Bender aired his views as the first signs of real progress came to fruition:

●A demolition notice has been served on the Sir Charles Napier pub to allow for a new slip road.

●And Brentwood council is poised to establish a new steering group to help speed up the improvements as part of a longer vision.

At the annual meeting of Brentwood Town Centre Partnership last week, highways officers from Essex County Council and Brentwood council said the scheme was progressing through its final legal stages.

They also revealed they were close to completing the final designs which will be shown to stakeholders at a meeting at Brentwood Town Hall on Thursday June 26.

But Mr Bender says the improvements have been so long in coming that residents have lost all enthusiasm.

He said: “They said it is taking so long because of the legal thing. But wouldn't you have thought the acquisition of rights would have happened at the beginning of the process rather than at the end?

“I think what has held it up is a complex issue. There have been a lot of personnel changes at Brentwood council. With our new relationship with the county council and sharing Joanna Killian as a chief executive, you would have thought that she would have seen this as a high priority. If we haven't got the ear of the county council then Brentwood's chief executive and Essex's chief executive have a communication problem!

“I think the enthusiasm of local people has waned because of the length of time this has taken.

“If it were all completed tomorrow Brentwood would be a significantly improved town geared up for the future.”

ECC yesterday said plans for the Charles Napier junction and High Street improvement were at an “advanced stage”.

ECC cabinet member for highways and transportation Cllr Norman Hume added: “The scheme is currently progressing through its final legal stages and it is hoped all outstanding issues will be resolved soon.

“ECC are continuing to work with the local community and all stakeholders are being kept continually informed.

“The scheme will include pedestrian friendly features, divert much of the current traffic away from the existing High Street and significantly improve the street scene.”


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    Pete, Shenfield  |  July 16 2008, 5:35PM

    Chris M is right. I was looking through some local history books recently and the loss to the town in terms of architecture and character over recent yearshas been staggering . The Sir Charles Napier is just another example. The next thing could well be another roundabout by Laura Ashley. I am sure that a tree expert could be produced to swear that the trees there have only another 10 years to live anyway and should go. These things seem to happen without anyone really noticing. Who is Mr Gerry B-nder speaking on behalf of? and where does he think that traffic 'diverted away from the High st' is going to go. Has he forgotten the anti Roads campaign of 1986? He was on the periphery of that and admittedly played only a marginal role in it. but these are the sorts of issues he should be addressing. It almost seems as if he has been appointed to render SBAG toothless.

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    Gerry bender, Brentwood  |  June 19 2008, 1:38PM

    The issue I am referring to about all of the proposed works is that, the authorities ECC and BCC have already made the decsions about these issues, but our complaint is about the implementation of these safety schemes, e.g. Weald Road Narrows.

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    Chris M, Brentwood  |  June 18 2008, 12:05PM

    You can't knock down te Charles Napier! Why not demolish the EMPTY gallery on the corner opposite that has had more occupancies and failed businesses than I can remember in this undesireable part of the high st. Then do the same to Laura Ashley (which has very few customers every time I past it) in that location that it can't be that good for business. I'm sure they could re-locate somewhere more desireable... like the Old Post Office site in the centre of town? Then that corner could be widened (more in line with the opposite junction, a mini-roundabout installed and the traffic lights removed, to enable better traffic flow etc. Brentwood is losing it's character and if the Sir Charles Napier is pulled down we have lost yet another bit of history. The councillors and planners are obviously narrow minded and have not thought this out clearly. They should rethink this plan or be utterly ashamed of themselves.

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    Mrs Merkin, Brentwood  |  June 18 2008, 10:29AM

    The obscenity filter strikes again! This time Gerry's surname has fallen foul of the censor.

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    Mrs Merkin, Brentwood  |  June 18 2008, 10:27AM

    Thank goodness our planners have been ¿slower than a tortoise¿, Mr Bender. You're supposed to be saving Brentwood - not destroying it! Brentwood has had its guts ripped out over the last 20 years, and not for the better. What if Romford has eradicated every trace of the once fine old market town? That's no reason for Brentwood to follow suit. It used to be a nice place to live, now it's just the first stop outwards for the chavs.

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    SHENFIELD RESIDENT, shenfield  |  June 18 2008, 9:02AM

    If the monstrosity that is now Sainsbur'y's car park is anything to go by, then I think we should leave any future developments of Brentwood Town Centre well alone !