Residents in an East Midlands town have welcomed multi-million-pound plans to transform their community, saying it badly needs a ‘face lift’. Long Eaton was awarded £24.8m funding from the Government last June to move forward with its Long Eaton Town Investment Plan.
The projects are due to start to be submitted to the Government with timescales between June 2022 and June 2023. The projects involve improvements to the Derby Road junctions at the Green, which could see bus bays relocated and restricting certain vehicle movements. It also includes improvements to the High Street and Market Place.
Plans also involve pedestrian and cycleway improvements around the town which include the bridge at Broad Street which connects West Park to the town centre, and an opportunity to build a new multi-purpose pedestrian and cycle bridge over the canal at Britannia Road.
In addition to the this, there would also be improvements to West Park, including a ‘West Park Waterfront’ next to the Erewash Canal allowing for, potentially, commercial boats to provide food and drink, alongside furniture to allow people to enjoy the waterside. The improvements to West Park also include the event space, with better drainage and utilities for event organisers.
Lia Ward, who has worked along the High Street for the past seven years at Mrs B’s which is now A-One Cafe and Kitchen, says this is something the town needs. Miss Ward said: “The traffic around the green is horrendous and makes it difficult for people driving to work or commuting, so I think that would be good.
“I like the sound of the canal – the West Park area. West Park is a really central place where adults, children and families use – this gives them another reason to go.”
Miss Ward added: “It needs rejuvenation – especially after the loss of shops – as a business that’s what people tell us. Overall the place needs rejuvenating, people would come from Notts and Derby, it was a place for people to come.
“When I was young, everyone went to the youth club. You’d use your time there then go home. For 13 to 16 year olds there’s not a lot to do. Just maybe something for the teenagers.”
The £24.8m funding also involves the former Box Office cinema becoming a cultural hub, as well as the former Galaxy Row Cinema being redeveloped for new apartments aimed at young professionals. It also could see sensitive lighting along the cycle path in West Park, along with a cycle hire, repair and training centre near West Park Leisure Centre.
Kim Bicknell, 51, owner of Kim’s Handmade Gift Shop, which has been on the high street for a year, shares in the excitement of the improvements coming to Long Eaton. She said: “It’s about time. It needs a face lift. I have customers come in and say that it’s not what it used to be, and kids come in with their mums and say they’re bored. Anything to bring it back to life. It’s mainly eateries, nails and charity shops.
“The people here are lovely, it’s a lovely place. It needs life putting back in it now. I think people are fed up with the stages we are going through. It’s nice to know things are in the pipeline. Things to improve and bring Long Eaton back, I’m glad to know.”
The Long Eaton funding plans further involve a former stable block attached to the Town Hall could be converted into a space for small affordable office units for small businesses with shared facilities.
David Hunt has been in the Long Eaton Market for the past 25 years at the Battery stall. Mr Hunt said: “It’s all good, it should be good. I think it’s important to try and help the town.
“It would be nice to do something with the empty shops. As long as it happens that’s the big thing.”
Maggie Throup, Conservative MP for Erewash, said: “I am immensely proud that, together with hundreds of other towns across the Midlands and the North, Long Eaton stands to be a net beneficiary of the Government’s Levelling-Up agenda.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to regenerate our town, through a series of major long-term projects, backed by £25 million pounds worth of new investment.
“Whilst this type of work does not happen overnight, I have every confidence that, once completed, the plan developed by the Long Eaton Towns Fund Board has the potential to transform the lives of local residents and the businesses that are based here.”
Councillor Bryn Lewis, Lead Member for Town Centres at Erewash Borough Council, added: “Extensive public consultation and evidence gathering helped to establish the vision for Long Eaton set out in the Town Investment Plan produced by the Town Deal Board. This includes making Long Eaton the go-to destination for its residents for leisure and retail services by combining the offer of its twin assets – a vibrant town centre and tranquil West Park.
“The individual town deal projects, each of which was strongly supported by further public consultation, will help to deliver this achievable goal. Vacancy rates in Long Eaton Town Centre are already lower than in Nottingham City Centre, and by supporting a virtuous cycle of increasing footfall and service provision, are expected to improve further.”
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