Tuesday, July 22, 2008

St Mary street disruption looms

I went to the meeting of the Countdown 2009 supervisory board at County Hall this morning, and reported on what the Faith Focus Group had done in its four meetings so far in its efforts to improve communications with the Council and offer feedback on some of difficulties faced during the redevelopment. I was pleased to be able to give copies of the Spiritual Capital research report to the Leader of the Council, and one of his senior officers, Tom Morgan, who usually presides over ordinary Countdown board meetings.

During the meeting we learned that Wales and West Utilities, the distribution infrastructure providor for the gas companies has declared its intention of replacing the gas main that runs the entire length of St Mary Street - sometime towards the end of 2009 or early 2010 - just about or after the time when all the work on the city centre is due to be complete. There's been enough controversy about the 'experimental' changes to traffic and street furnishing in St Mary Street to last a lifetime, and consultation about the final arrangements is still going on. The thought of all this being resolved, the work being done, and then the street dug up again and subject to partial if not total closures to traffic doesn't bear thinking of.

The utility companies have powers that enable them to impose their presence and activity on the city. Fortunately, they have some obligation to give plenty of notice, so negotiations are going on at the moment with the aim of bringing forward the total disruption of St Mary Street by six to nine months. Planned work on the streetscape can then be deferred until after the piple laying and organised to follow through closely, and finish by the autumn deadline for getting everything straight again for the big re-launch of Cardiff, capital of shopping.

Many have protested about the closure of St Mary Street to traffic, and the impact this could have on businesses on top of that due to the recession/slowdown, or whatever else it is that is causing people to stop spending in town. Enforced closure will at least get people used to the idea and give everyone practice at work-arounds. Heaven know how it will affect people coming in to church.

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