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Differing views on controversial pedestrianisation proposal for Uplands Swansea

RESIDENTS and traders would be consulted before any trial pedestrianisation of a square in Uplands, Swansea went ahead, a councillor has said.

Proposals have been drawn up which may pave the way for a trial closure of Gwydr Square, where the Uplands Market is normally held.

Supporters say it would make the square – currently more of a roundabout with surrounding shops and takeaways – more people-friendly and welcoming.

Opponents worry about the loss of parking and the re-routing of traffic down nearby roads, with some fearing late-night drinkers might congregate there.

Uplands councillors Mary Sherwood and Nick Davies have supported a group of residents they say have been taking forward the pedestrianisation idea.

Cllr Sherwood said traders immediately adjoining the square were supportive of the concept when the idea was in its infancy long ago.

“Traders and residents’ views would, of course, be sought before any trial went ahead,” she said.

Cllr Sherwood and Cllr Davies have contributed £1,440 from their community budget to a consultancy called Urban Foundry, which has drafted and refined the pedestrianisation concept and met council officers to try and ascertain if it’s workable.

One of its directors, said the councillors, lives in Uplands.

Cllr Davies said: “I think the scheme has merit. I think it would make Uplands cleaner, quieter, more people-friendly and less car-dominated.

“I think it would be good for residents and traders. Pleasant urban environments always increase footfall.”

He also said the amount of work done by Urban Foundry would have cost more by consultants on the open market.

Another Uplands councillor, Peter May, asked about the funding element in a written question to Swansea Council.

Cllr May also wanted to know if the emergency services had been consulted and whether a traffic regulation order had been worked through to facilitate any trial.

In response, Cllr Mark Thomas, cabinet member for environment enhancement and infrastructure management, stressed that no decisions had been taken and that the emergency services and other groups would be consulted before any trial.

He added: “A major benefit of undertaking a trial is the ability to learn from suggestions and comments from the public, during the trial period, to inform whether the closure should be made permanent, or allow any final design to be amended prior to introducing quality permanent materials.”

Cllr May said any trial should only take place after the coronavirus lockdown ended and that a three-month trial period “would be more than adequate”.

He said he was concerned that displaced traffic would move to nearby streets, like Ernald Place and Bernard Street, and queried whether Gwydr Square had the right mix of commercial premises to make the scheme work.

He added: “It will be a congregation space at night.”

Three people shopping at the square who spoke to the Local Democracy Reporter Service backed the pedestrianisation concept, while one didn’t.

Madeleine Hosking, of Brynmill, said: “I think it’s a brilliant idea. I’ve been to the market quite a few times – it would make it really aesthetic.”

Sam Beale, of Uplands, said: “It’s a great idea. It would make it more accessible and more social. People could sit outside.”

Kay Lloyd, of Sketty, said: “It seems a good idea. We walk here anyway, and it would give people a chance to get together more.”

John Williams, of Uplands, said the idea was “nonsense”.

“Parking is difficult enough as it is anyway,” he said. “And it would lead to the wrong sort of people hanging out. There are no upsides whatsoever.”

Jayne Keeley, secretary of Uplands Traders Association, said she felt the proposal was being taken forward in a way which was “dismissive” of traders and residents.

Mrs Keeley said cleansing, policing and traffic issues had to be addressed before any pedestrianisation took place.

She feared late-night drinkers would gather at a traffic-free square with takeaway food.

She added: “My customers (who drive) can’t get anywhere near me on market day.”

But she said if her concerns were addressed satisfactorily, she could change her mind.

“I would take my cup of coffee and go and sit there,” she said.

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