QUESTIONS have been raised over the level of consultation with traders over plans to trial radical changes to Chepstow town centre.

Monmouthshire County Council has secured Welsh Government funding to provide a “pedestrian-friendly” 20mph zone in the town, as well as planters and parklets along High Street.

The council says the work is in response to the challenges of the pandemic, and to make sure traders and residents can safely return to the town.

The work, will include a raised area on Beaufort Square to encourage lower speeds (20mph zone), which the council says will result in improved pedestrian connectivity between High Street and St Mary's Street.

Traffic lights outside Coffee 1 will be decommissioned, and the crossing there will be scrapped. The council says this is to allow social distancing when crossing the road, rather than at a “pinch point created by controlled crossing”.

Free Press Series: View of High Street from Beaufort SquareView of High Street from Beaufort Square

Temporary kerbing and bollards at the town arch and its Moor Street junction will allow the removal of current barriers and signage.

In April, parklets are to be introduced as well as planters on High Street - which will be turned into a single-lane road, which the council says will offer an “attractive environment for shoppers to enjoy a coffee”.

The council adds that while the changes - the first of which are scheduled for late March - are not intended to be permanent, “it will offer an opportunity to trial a new layout for improving pedestrian access”.

Thornwell councillor Armand Watts says a trial should involve consultation with traders and the public, which has not taken place.

Free Press Series: Armand WattsArmand Watts

“If this is a trial for something that could be made permanent, there needs to be a consultation,” he said.

“Talking to one or two traders isn’t a consultation. There needs to be a full consultation process with traders on High Street and St Mary’s Street and those operating in the wider area too, because this will impact everyone.

“The plans essentially sound like window-dressing, which isn’t a bad thing and there is definitely a place for that.

Free Press Series: View from town arch over High StreetView from town arch over High Street

"But only a full economic road plan with full co-operation between MCC, the town council, and traders will create necessary improvements.

“Why can’t this money be used towards helping loan more money to traders? It seems obvious that is what they need the most at this stage.”


Cllr Jane Pratt, cabinet member for highways, says the process has involved Chepstow Town Council and the Chamber of Commerce.

Secretary of the chamber Sue Kingdom says the chamber appreciates being included in discussions.

“We appreciate the council is trying to help the town and that they haven’t had much time to put this plan together,” she said.

“However, we are concerned a consultation hasn’t taken place.

“If there is a view to making this permanent, that will need to happen as soon as possible.

“I think the planters could work very well, but perhaps not on High Street.

Free Press Series: High Street, ChepstowHigh Street, Chepstow

"If planters and parklets are put up along High Street then they’d need to be flexible and moveable, because it is important they don’t jeopardise events that bring footfall to the town, post-lockdown.

“The raised area planned for Beaufort Square is meant to slow down traffic, meaning there is likely to be more traffic queuing there. With more traffic, it seems unsafe to not have a proper designated crossing, so we have serious concerns over health and safety there.”

Councillor for St Mary’s Jez Becker, says something needs to be done to help Chepstow recover from a gruelling lockdown period, and the plans offer a “brilliant opportunity to do something radical”.

Free Press Series: Jez BeckerJez Becker

“I’m very positive about it, and from the traders I’ve spoken to I think they’re positive about it too,” he said.

“Chepstow Town Council has been consulted throughout this process.

“The best way to get people to the town is to make it a nice and welcoming place to spend time in, and that’s what this aims to do.”

Cllr Pratt said: “The Welsh Government grant has come at an opportune time as we anticipate a possible relaxation of lockdown.

"The scheme will offer the opportunity to create a safe and pleasant environment for visitors and is an excellent example of cooperation between the council, Chepstow Town Council, the Chamber of Trade and local councillors to help transform the town and support businesses after what has been a very difficult and challenging time.”