Majority of residents want Chepstow high street to be re-opened to traffic
Saul Cooke-Black, local democracy reporter
Most people in Chepstow want Monmouthshire council to end the closure of the high street to traffic, according to the results of a public consultation.
The high street has been closed to traffic at both the town gate, known locally as the Arch, and at the bottom of the high street near Beaufort Square, since Covid restrictions introduced in March 2020.
But a public consultation held by the county council in February has shown strong support for returning to pre-Covid arrangements.
In a survey, 49 per cent of people said the High Street should return to two-way traffic 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A total of 947 people said they ‘strongly agree’ to lifting the closure, while 245 said they agree with keeping the measures in place.
The public consultation also asked people about how they use the High Street and how they would like to see it developed.
A report sent to councillors said there are “several challenges” posed by the results.
“Respondents would like an improved town centre offering an improved shopping experience, more events and generally being more shopper focused but are not willing to put up with congestion and delays on A48 to achieve a more pleasant shopping environment,” it says.
“The closure of High Street has not increased walking and cycling by those taking part in the survey.”
The main reason for people visiting the town is non-food shopping, such as to go to the bank, building society, chemist, hairdresser, nail bar, solicitors and Sunday market, the survey found.
Results also revealed the most popular place to shop outside of the town was Bristol Cribbs Causeway due to retail choice, free parking and no bridge tolls.
Chepstow councillor Armand Watts said the results showed “the vast majority” of people ‘clearly’ want the existing measures removed, and that they now “need to go”.
He said the restrictions have increased traffic issues in areas such as the Brunel Quarter and created a “higher degree of hazard”.
“My view is that, talking to the vast majority of the residents in my ward, it needs to go back,” he said.
“People do not want to go into town now because there’s nothing really there, and even if there is something there, they are constantly worried about the traffic so it’s like a no go area.
“If we are trying to create a destination, it’s very difficult to do that when the vast majority of people do not want to go into town because it’s chaotic.”
A Monmouthshire council spokeswoman said the results of the consultation will be discussed at the next meeting of the Chepstow Placemaking Plan Steering Group at the end of June.
“The results of the survey will be considered, amongst other things as part of the wider consultation process for the Chepstow Placemaking Plan,” she added.
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I’ll bet the “majority of residents” did not respond because only those who want to complain are motivated to complain on such matters. I’ll also bet that the “majority of residents” are local shopkeepers and their friends and family.