Council looking to improve town

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Rutland County Council is in the early stages of looking at possible options to improve Oakham Town Centre.

A project to improve the centre of Rutland’s county town has been the subject of discussion since the opening of Oakham bypass in 2007.

Before the bypass, the main function of Oakham High Street was to move large volumes of traffic, including heavy goods vehicles, through the town. Although the road is now used primarily for retail and social interaction, the layout and street scene remain unchanged.

One of the council’s main priorities is to ensure that Rutland’s market towns are vibrant and attractive to both residents and businesses and the authority’s latest corporate plan includes a target to implement an Oakham town centre improvement scheme by the end of September 2018.

Council leader Tony Mathias (Con) said: “Oakham has seen considerable change in the past 10 years. Along with the opening of the bypass, we’ve witnessed a boom in online retail and an increase in the popularity of out-of-town shopping destinations, all of which means that people no longer need to come into town centres.

“It’s important for Oakham’s future that the town moves with the times and adapts to these changes, so that it continues to be a wonderful place where people want to live, work and visit.”

As part of the first stage of the town centre improvement scheme, Rutland County Council has approached community leaders and local groups such as Oakham Town Council, Oakham Town Partnership and the Neighbourhood Plan Working Group to seek their views.

Based on the feedback received, the council will produce outline designs which will be put out to full public consultation in the Summer. This will lead to the development of a detailed design which will be subject to further consultation in early 2018.

Coun Mathias added: “Oakham is the county town and the impact of any improvement scheme will be felt beyond local residents and businesses. We are still in the very early stages but our plans include lengthy consultation with the wider public as well visitors to the area.

“We hope the outcome of this process will be a shared vision for the future of Oakham town centre and, ultimately, a revitalised High Street that we can all be proud of and enjoy.”