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New bus hub vital for Cheltenham Image

26th March 2019
New bus hub vital for Cheltenham

A study to bring a new bus station to improve Cheltenham’s “terrible” transport links has been launched.

Cheltenham borough councillors yesterday unanimously voted for investigative work to begin which could see a so-called transport hub be built in a bid to upgrade travel connections in the town.

The study will figure out where the bus station could go, as well as how big it could be and what it could offer.

There are currently four points in the town buses and coaches can transport people to, including Royal Well Road and Cheltenham Spa railway station.

Cheltenham last had a main bus station in St Margaret’s Road, before it closed in the 1980s.

One councillor said major plans to build thousands of homes to the north-west of Cheltenham and the new cyber business park will mean a new bus station is “vital”.

Presenting the motion, Deputy Mayor Roger Whyborn said Cheltenham’s transport routes are “terrible”.

Councillor Whyborn (LD, Up Hatherley) said: “We are faced with a railway station which is not well situated but we could at least provide better connections to it."

“I want to see a proper study as to the right size, scope and location of bus interchanges in the centre but with the whole network in mind.”

Recent data published by Stagecoach, which provides bus services in Gloucestershire, shows more people are using buses than driving in Cheltenham.

But Mr Whyborn said the increase are return journeys, not commuters.

He added: “The percentage of commuters using the bus to travel to work inside the borough is more of less the same as those who come from outside the borough.”

Cheltenham Spa railway station, where coaches also operate, is a 25-minute walk from the centre of town.

 


Cheltenham Spa Railway Station (Image: Mikal Ludlow Photography)

The town is predicted to have a large population growth with a £650million cyber park which will bring 7,000 jobs. It will be located in fields next to GCHQ.

And 7,000 new homes are being proposed to be built in north-west Cheltenham.

Mr Whyborn said all current sites in Cheltenham to catch buses and coaches “must be considered”.

Conservative leader Tim Harman (Park) said: “If my father was alive, he would say ‘we closed the wrong railway station’. The location of the old one, by Waitrose, would have been really good.

“The location of the current railway station does present a challenge.”

Councillor Andrew McKinlay (LD, Up Hatherley) said: “One of the elements of the Cheltenham Transport Plan is modal shift – getting people out of cars and start walking and cycling. We have to make the whole of our environment easier to use.

“This piece of work is important but there is no easy answer. If there was an easy answer, we would have done it years ago. We have a problem, fundamentally, with the structure of the town centre. It’s a 21st century problem with traffic, based on an 18th century town layout.”

Councillor Chris Mason (C, Lansdown) said : “If we need fewer car parks then one can argue that getting rid of them will free up space. Utilising the free space from a car park could be the location of our transport hub.”

Cheltenham Borough Council officers will now work with relevant agencies, such as National Express, Stagecoach, Gloucestershire County Council and GFirstLep to launch the study.






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