In 2020 Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) made changes to high streets for social distancing measures to meet government guidelines and requirements associated with the pandemic. The temporary changes to town centres were designed to help residents, businesses and families remain safe as the government allowed high streets to reopen in a phased and gradual manner.
In North Hertfordshire this included introducing temporary measures in Hitchin, Royston and Knebworth. HCC undertook a High Street Recovery Survey in early summer 2021 seeking local business and resident views on the measures and potential proposals to trail the current measures over a longer period of time.
Details and outputs from the Hitchin and Royston surveys and the potential trial proposals can be found on HCC's High Street Recovery Page.
In Hitchin this involved closing the High Street and part of Market Place at certain times of the day throughout the week. The scheme has provided benefits for local businesses in supporting opportunities for an outdoor economy, and has created a more pleasant, attractive and healthier environment for pedestrians and visitors to the town centre. The current proposal is to trail the road closure over a longer period of time.
In Royston the temporary measures enabled social distancing and helped to support local businesses through the provision of additional loading bays and more disabled parking in the high street, with the intention of reducing unnecessary traffic circulation and car use and encouraging more walking and cycling, to make it a more pleasant environment for pedestrians and visitors to the town centre. Planters were used to help support these aims. The current proposal is to trail these temporary measures over a longer period of time.
In Knebworth the temporary social distancing measures were removed from the High Street in the summer of 2021.
HCC will use the results of the survey to inform the next steps for the trial projects to be progressed in Hitchin and Royston town centres.
For each town a Project Board has been set up, which includes councillors from both the County Council and relevant District Councils. Representatives from Hitchin and Royston BIDS and Royston Town Council are also included on the respective Project Boards. The Project Board's role is to review the results of the survey and hear from other key stakeholders before taking a joint decision on the future of each project.
Reviewing the results and speaking to key stakeholders, including local businesses has been taking place over the summer and will continue into the new year. HCC expect to be able to provide updates on each project during this time.
If you would like to know more about these projects or have any queries regarding the current measures, please email HCC at HighStreetRecovery@hertfordshire.gov.uk.