Chunks of Wantage Market Place could remain closed to cars

CONTINENTAL-style café culture could stay in Wantage, with scheme that has seen areas of the town center temporarily pedestrianized has been praised for increasing footfall.

A consultation has been launched by Oxfordshire County Council to find out if areas of Wantage Market Place should stay shut to traffic.

The current restrictions on waiting and parking at the western end of Market Place, southern end of Alfred Street and northern end of Church Street, could be made permanent if people agree it has had a positive effect on the town.

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The area was originally pedestrianized by the town council in 2021 to encourage residents to return to the town center while properly socially distancing after the pandemic.

Wantage town councilor Andrew Crawford believes that a shopping area without cars is more attractive and said the council hopes to make it permanent.

He said: “The town council undertook a very comprehensive survey and had overwhelming support for it. Most of the premises in that area are also really supportive.

“Cafés and The King Alfred’s Head pub are able to spill out onto what would otherwise be a road.

“We have had a number of events there, with music and Jubilee events, which attract crowds and increase the footfall.”

The Big Jubilee Lunch in Wantage. Picture: Rebecca Sheather.

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He added: “We need to work with taxi drivers to make sure that there is a solution for them, and with those shops that require delivery and pick up to make sure they are not massively inconvenienced.”

The county council’s online consultation page says measures will continue to “facilitate safer pedestrian movement” and the “safe use of tables and chairs” by hospitality businesses.

The county council adds that there are exemptions for emergency vehicles, those accessing properties, and for road or utility work.

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Loraine Alder, manager at the Shaw Trust charity shop in the Market Place, said: “I was worried it would have an impact on us, especially as we are a charity shop where people will pull up into town quickly and run across to give donations . But its has not had any effect on us at all. ”

She added: “It is quite nice to have that area where you can just sit and enjoy the area.”

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However, some people are concerned that shoppers, unable to access the main streets, will take their money in shopping centers in neighboring towns.

Beverley Sutton commented on the Community News Wantage and Grove Facebook page and said: “Enough people go out of town to do their shopping as it is. Make the Market Place pedestrianized and the handful of remaining shops will soon close due to lack of sales. ”

To find out more about the council’s proposal and make a comment visit: letstalk.oxfordshire.gov.uk

This story was written by Rebecca Whittaker, she joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Rebecca covers education and news in Abingdon and Wantage.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Rebecca.Whittaker@newquest.co.uk or calling 07824524333

Follow her on Twitter @RebecWhitt

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