OBTAINING funds to help ‘revitalise’ a town centre by de-pedestrianising its high street has been made a priority, a senior councillor has said.

The temporary traffic arrangement on High Street in Holywell will come to an end on December 31 this year, following a pilot scheme which has been supported by Flintshire County Council, Holywell Town Council and the Local Businesses.

The pilot project was to assess the value of a long term change to the traffic arrangements on the road.

Holywell High Street was pedestrianised in the 1990s and, since that date, there has been much discussion locally on the value and impact of the ‘traffic free’ status on businesses and footfall.

In order to help all parties reach a final decision on the best solution for the town, the trial arrangements were introduced in May 2018 to allow the businesses and both councils to measure the impact of the trafficked road (which also provided a small number of free on-street parking spaces for short stay visits to the town) - against the current pedestrianised state.

During the period of the pilot a public consultation event was also held in the local connects centre on the High Street, which was well attended by both businesses and shoppers.

A Flintshire Council spokesman said: “As a result of the trial, both councils and all businesses can now support the long term aspiration to move to a permanent de-pedestrianised state and the next stage of the process has already started and involves lobbying for funding to construct the final scheme.

“The existing road is not constructed to facilitate a permanently trafficked arrangement and already most of the road markings, which were placed to temporarily demark the line of the road through the town and provide the car parking restrictions during the period of the pilot, have disappeared.

“Therefore, whilst the parties seek a funding solution, the road will return to a pedestrianised state from January 1, 2019.”

Councillor Carolyn Thomas, cabinet member for Streetscene and Countryside, said: “I am pleased that we have been able to fund and support the pilot arrangement on the High Street, which has enabled a final decision on the benefit of removing the pedestrianised order to be reached by all parties.

“We can now move forward together to find a funding solution for the permanent works, which will help us all to continue to help revitalise the Town Centre in Holywell.

“I, along with officers, am working on seeking funding from Welsh Government as a priority, so that it can be permanently opened as soon as possible.”

Councillor Ted Palmer, chair of the town centre sub-committee for Holywell Town Council, said: “Members are disappointed that the first application for funding was unsuccessful but are grateful for the extensive work and effort of Flintshire County Council and the business community throughout this process and remain resolute in seeking the funding required to implement this scheme.

“We are also mindful of the safety of members of the public and, although we would have liked to extend the trial, we fully understand the County Council’s position on this matter.”

Russ Warburton, chairman of the Holywell Business Group, said: “The Business Group welcomes the positive news that Holywell High Street will be opened to traffic on a permanent basis and that funding will be sourced to complete this scheme as soon as possible.

“We are very disappointed about the decision to close the High Street to traffic on December 31 and revert back to a pedestrianised High Street due to the temporary traffic order coming to an end.

“Both the Town Council and the Business Group have asked Flintshire County Council to extend the temporary traffic order until work on the High Street commences, but Flintshire County Council have rejected this.

“This decision to close the street will damage all of the hard work that the Business Group and Holywell Town Council have done to improve Holywell High Street.

“The funding for this scheme must now be an urgent priority for Flintshire County Council.”