Council considers narrowing road to help businesses

North Lanarkshire Council planner Lorna Bowden says the local authority would like to look at the proposal.
North Lanarkshire Council planner Lorna Bowden says the local authority would like to look at the proposal.

North Lanarkshire Council is considering narrowing the road on Brandon Street and Windmillhill Street in Motherwell.

The idea was put forward during a packed meeting last week despite criticism of a similar scheme in Muir Street where congestion at the train station is a real headache.

It came as the findings of a recent consultation, which will form the basis of the Motherwell Town Centre Action Plan, were made public.

It is believed that narrowing the road to one lane in each direction with a central meridian will allow the pavement to be widened for the benefit of shops and businesses.

Planning Aid for Scotland’s Nick Wright said: “There is a need to join up the town centre and there are lots of different proposals to make this happen.

“One of these is looking at a pavement extension on Brandon Street and Windmillhill Street, taking in all the shops and businesses, the health centre and the civic centre.

“This would allow businesses to spill out and use the space which will hopefully encourage people to stroll up there, rather than what seems to be the belief at the moment that the town centre ends at the underpass.

“This would obviously be a major project and would need the council, businesses the NHS and other partners to all come together to make it happen.”

The council has considered a similar scheme in the past, but hadn’t taken it any further. However it now seems to be keen on the idea, although mindful of the issues with similar schemes in Muir Street, Motherwell, and Main Street, Wishaw.

Council planner Lorna Bowden said: “There is a whole lot of ideas to try and improve Motherwell town centre and we need to go through them to see what is deliverable.

“There are some ideas that can be done quickly like putting up new signage around the town to help with wayfinding and there are others which would take a long time like extending the pavements in Brandon Street.

“That type of solution isn’t without problems, you only have to look at Wishaw to see that, so would require a lot of consultation and development, but is something we’d like to look at.”

The similarity of this scheme to Muir Street, but on a much larger scale, did draw some concerned comments from the room and there was an admission that project will need to be revisited.

Ms Bowden said: “We are hoping to receive funding from the Scottish Government’s City Deal programme to look at the area from the station to behind Motherwell Point.”

Other ideas did find more favour such as improved and colour coded signs to lead people around the town centre, for which funding is already in place and holding the type of public events in Garrion Square for which it was designed.

Creating a green space on the roof of Motherwell shopping centre was met with a mixed reaction over fears that it would just attract vandals and undesirables.

Shopping centre owners Chester Properties were known to not be keen on the idea, but they have since sold out to London-based Edinburgh House Estates for £41.6 million.

Edinburgh House is no stranger to North Lanarkshire as it already owns the Westway Retail Park in Cumbernauld, as well as the likes of the Clyde Shopping Centre.

A draft of the action plan will go before councillors for approval next month.