Plans to permanently merge the Weighbridge and Liberation Square are dropped
CONTROVERSIAL proposals to permanently merge the Weighbridge and Liberation Square as part of plans to mark the 75th anniversary of the Liberation have been dropped.
Businesses and Islanders raised serious concerns that extinguishing the dividing road to join the two squares would increase traffic on the surrounding streets and impact on shops, bars and restaurants in the area.
Now, following a consultation which further highlighted public opposition, Chief Minister John Le Fondré has announced that the £3 million scheme will be axed in its current form.
The Senator said he still believed a project to create a 'well-designed public realm' had merit, but he accepted there was a need to revisit the scheme. He also announced plans to refurbish Liberation Square, which he said needed 'attention in order to bring it, and the surrounding area, back up to a standard of which we can be proud'.
He added: 'Both myself and Deputy Kevin Lewis, as Minister for Infrastructure, have listened to the feedback we have received from the public about the existing proposed scheme, and in particular about perceptions of both the cost and the traffic impact of the proposals, and we have decided to revisit the scheme to address public concerns.
'I have also asked that any improvements to Liberation Square be developed in the context of the wider vision for improving the quality of place and connectivity in St Helier.
'Therefore, we will still be seeking some improvements to the square, but ensuring that traffic flow, particularly at peak times, is not impeded, and that costs are significantly lower. 'We believe that creating a space that can be better used for significant events, or during particular times in holiday periods, will have a very real and long term benefit to the urban area.'
Deputy Jeremy Maçon has now dropped his proposition, which called for the plans to be withdrawn.
The politician, whose proposition was due to be debated this week, said: 'Working behind the scene with the Chief Minister and Infrastructure Minister, I’ve convinced them to reject joining of the squares on a permanent basis and to explore other options. The traffic implications would have been horrendous.
'Given the undertakings now provided I do not feel the need to have my proposition debated as its effect has already been achieved. However, it was worthwhile lodging my proposition as it provided the political pressure to focus minds on this matter.'