Published: 05:00, 19 May 2022
| Updated: 15:17, 19 May 2022
Funding has been secured for a project to ban cars from a stretch of Herne Bay seafront and create a new plaza “akin to the feel of a Spanish seaside resort”.
A 250ft section of Central Parade looks set to be pedestrianised as Kent Council Council (KCC) has this week bagged a £100,000 government grant for the scheme.
Papers show the road will be sealed off to vehicles between Pier Avenue and Station Road, with live gigs and food vendors regularly occupying the new square.
Campaigners believe the scheme will make the town “cleaner, greener and more prosperous”.
County councillor Dan Watkins says the work is expected to start in the first quarter of next year.
“For everyone, wherever they live in Herne Bay, that pedestrianisation will give them a space to enjoy and relax in,” the Tory said.
“It’ll break up that long stretch of road in Central Parade, which has in the past had challenges with speeding, and make it less prone to those issues.
“I’d like to think it’ll be finished in spring next year.
“We can’t change the weather, but what we can do is make it a more relaxing experience akin to the feel of a Spanish seaside resort.”
Teams from KCC have begun drawing up the project’s outline proposals, ahead of a planned consultation with locals later this year.
Cllr Watkins expects the details of the transformation to be finalised by the end of the summer, before being sent back to the government for a final sign off.
Businessman Mehmet Dari, who owns three restaurants on the seafront, thinks it will give the coast a boost.
“I think it’s a very good idea, especially for us, as when I try to put customers next to the road at the moment, they don’t want to sit there,” he explained.
“No one wants to sit down next to the traffic and have a meal. The area will have a more relaxing atmosphere.”
Precise traffic arrangements for the project have yet to be finalised, but a draft plan was unveiled two years ago.
It showed that drivers travelling west towards Hampton would be diverted off Central Parade at Dolphin Street, while vehicles coming the other way would leave the seafront at Pier Avenue, which would become one-way.
The stretch of St George’s Terrace opposite the new plaza - between Station Road and Pier Avenue - would be for access only.
Elderly residents living in nearby blocks opposed the bid, with octogenarian Beryl Bellgard branding it “ridiculous” as she feared it would create a “racket” outside her home.
In an attempt to quell their concerns, Cllr Watkins stresses the events held on the plaza will be of a “small scale, and not terrifically noisy or crowded”.
As part of the project, a cycle route stretching from the town’s railway station, through Memorial Park, Richmond Street and onto the seafront will also be created.
“It’ll attract more visitors to the town as it will join up our facilities to the train station,” Cllr Watkins added.
“All of the changes will just go on to make Herne Bay cleaner, greener, quieter and more prosperous.
“It’ll attract more visitors to the town as it will join up our facilities to the train station...”
“I want to make Herne Bay the best town in Kent for walking and cycling – and this is the first step towards that.”
The move comes after plans for a £2 million cycle route dubbed Herne Bay’s answer to the Crab and Winkle Way were revealed in December.
Drawings show the trail, suitable for ramblers and bike-riders, would stretch about seven miles between the seaside town and Canterbury.
Meanwhile, six-figure work to install a three-metre-wide footpath and cycle route along the Old Thanet Way between Herne Bay and Whitstable is set to finish at at the end of the year.