USK residents have questioned whether proposals drawn up to help improve the town will have an adverse impact.

The reaction comes after engineering company ARUP Consultancy revealed its “masterplan” last week, following a year-long research project on the town’s people and services.

The company was commissioned last year by Monmouthshire County Council and Usk Town Council to carry out the work, after they say residents shared concerns of feeling unsafe when walking through Bridge Street due to increased traffic.

Free Press Series: Crowds gathered at The Grange in Usk last week to criticise the plansCrowds gathered at The Grange in Usk last week to criticise the plans

But many residents who attended an open exhibition on improvement proposals last week have reacted angrily, and said they were not contacted or asked for their opinions before the plan was drawn up.

Plans include introducing a one-way system in Bridge Street, bringing in parking charges at the town’s main car parks in Maryport Street, and setting a maximum speed limit of 20mph in order to dissuade commuters from going through Usk via the A472.

But residents argued that the town badly needs a bypass instead.

Jamie Tucker, senior designer for ARUP, accepted more work needed to be done and said the next stage of the plan includes “detailed research to more accurately gauge residents’ opinions”.

“There is an evident congestion problem in Bridge Street that needs to be dealt with," he said.

“Improving pedestrian elements of Usk and discouraging people from driving through is likely to stop congestion.”

Free Press Series: Bridge Street is at the heart of the town's congestion debateBridge Street is at the heart of the town's congestion debate

Residents complained that making the town’s main street more pedestrianised would move the problem elsewhere, increasing bottlenecks in smaller roads in the town.

Christopher Morse - a landscape gardener in Usk for more than 30 years - believes the benefits of pedestrianising Bridge Street are outweighed by an “inevitable traffic issue”.

“It will mean heavier vehicles coming through residential routes of New Market Street and Mill Street,” he said.


“Any traffic moving from Abergavenny or Monmouth will have to come straight through Twyn Square and into the heart of a town which will not cope.

“What happens when lorries that have to come here each morning meet on a bend? There will be gridlock.”

Stella Collard, a resident of Wentwood and a regular visitor to Usk for 30 years, shared her concerns for the town’s historic buildings, and said a bypass should not be ignored.

“The buildings in New Market Street and Maryport Street are some of the oldest and most traditional houses in the town,” she said.

“They aren’t designed to cope with high levels of traffic and it will be a matter of time before they are hit by lorries.”

Tony Kear, former Mayor of Usk and resident for more than 50 years, said the plans for Bridge Street put a stain on “what was otherwise a good report”

“When it comes to the issue of Bridge Street, the plans are not a credible, permanent solution and will unfortunately have a negative impact on the people living in the town,” he said.

Free Press Series: Chairman of Usk in Bloom and former mayor Tony KearChairman of Usk in Bloom and former mayor Tony Kear

“I think in their plans they may have looked at how the town coped when gas works were taking place on Bridge Street in 2018, but they may have forgotten that at that time people parked in the main car park in the town because they weren’t allowed to park on the roads.

“It wasn’t a permanent solution and people lived accordingly for a short period.”

Mr Kear suggested alternatives including implementing chicanes on the roads coming into the town to increase congestion coming into Usk, therefore encouraging drivers to find alternatives routes, and added that he would like to see a ban on big lorries entering the town.