Ever since I moved into Stanway area of Colchester, one of the local shopping areas I have within walking/cycling distance is Tollgate & ideal if you have mobility issues & don't drive. Problem I found with it it is not a good environment for walking or cycling due to lack of safe crossing point & main road through it is a fast rat run for drivers going to & from A12.
As for cycling other than the busy fast paced road with impatient drivers, the lack of parking facilities was a big deterrent. The main one for the shopping complex was at one end of the shops, tucked away & so often missed. I didn't know it was there for over a year after shopping at Tollgate.
The other is for McDonald's customers only, so no good unless you go there & fight your way thru oncoming traffic of the Drive-thru & if room amongst the mopeds parked there.
All this & fact Sainsburys relocated out of Tollgate, it wasn't a good place to cycle & shop despite within the area for me to & thus rarely did. Not an inclusive access area to shop that's for sure.
But for the past year or so there's been stirrings of redevelopment of the shopping complex & I know a fair few feel it's not needed as it will 'kill the town centre', I hate to say it the town centre is dying already as its at bursting point with shops & more shops wont help it as the roads are already at bursting point & going to get worse. So I for one am all for the redevelopment as I am a local resident & having more shops here would be beneficial to those like me who avoid the town centre already.
I don't fully agree with the plans tho, I sure don't agree with removal of the only safe crossing point for shared space on a rat run road. We need more safe crossing points & stop it being a rat run by making it for car park access & buses only. This would make it far slower pace on the road & safer for pedestrians & cyclists.
So where am I going with this? Well despite the battle to get planning for the buildings, the car park is already being refurbished ready for the redevelopment. At first I saw the only cycle parking disappearing behind hoardings & had a foreboding feeling of there being nothing for cycle parking, to the point I was taking the bike into the shop with me as no cycle parking...
But it looks like the Tollgate Partnership have seen there is a severe lack of cycle parking & been putting in new ones & in many locations along the shopping complex & all well lite at night too. Many Thanks to them for this!
Its only the South car park that's been done so far & almost complete, I guess North side is soon once they know the outcome of the planning permission. But I do hope it follows the same trend as this as it definitely means I can cycle there & shop knowing I can park my bike right near the shop I want where it feels safe to for me & the bike day & night.
As for the old location of the only cycle parking? Well its a building & with public toilets...
Definitely a win win for shoppers so far tho I feel some signs are needed to let cyclists know there's new cycle parking.
The plans aren't perfect & I await to see the final redevelopment but so far it is heading in the right direction & perhaps with some advice from cycling organisations we can make it better & not diss the plans too much.