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Opinion : If you had £14.53m to spend improving Wycombe would you waste it on the ‘Masterplan’?

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Wycombe is a town of great opportunity but sadly I fear over the years bad decisions have set us back decades.

A few years ago the construction of a new shopping centre was seen as the way forward in an attempt to rejuvenate the town. Unlike shopping arcades in nearby towns the one built in Wycombe has a roof that doesn’t cover all the shopping malls and rain sneaks in between the gaps in the roofing sections leaving the poor customers underneath to get wet.

Rather than rejuvenating the town centre the new shopping centre killed off the High Street and Frogmoor areas leaving boarded up shops as a monument to the failure of the scheme.

Now the ‘Masterplan’, or Alternative Route for traffic thought the town centre, is the latest project to hit Wycombe town centre. When I say ‘hit’ the town centre it literally has done that.

Desborough Road has been narrowed and turned into a divided road thanks to a ‘give way’ junction where Desborough Road meets Westbourne Street. I feel sorry for the shop keepers struggling to survive now it’s harder to drive down Desborough Road.

Traffic from Marlow Hill and Abbey Way now avoids Oxford Road and goes up Suffield Road and into Desborough Avenue in order to get to West Wycombe Road and the A40 creating huge traffic jams in Desborough Avenue. Already many people view the ‘Masterplan’ as more of a ‘Disasterplan’.

Arriving home this evening my good self was shocked to see a news article that appeared today in the news section of this site entitled ‘Consultation launched on final sections of ‘Masterplan’ Alternative Route for traffic through High Wycombe‘.

Apparently a public consultation has been launched on the final sections of the ‘Masterplan’ even though construction on phases 1 and 2 is already under way.

But hang on…. Who starts a project when consultation on the final parts hasn’t taken place? Suppose the public object en-mass and their objections don’t fit with the first two parts of the project? Wouldn’t that make phases 1 and 2 a waste of public money?

What surprised, indeed shocked me, was that according to the news article the total cost of the ‘Masterplan’ is £14.53m.

With such a large sum of money available to improve the town surely it could have been put to better use than re-organising the roads?

Remember the whole ‘Masterplan’ scheme comes from a dislike by a few of the magnificent Abbey Way flyover. I fear the determination of the powers that be to decommission and demolish the flyover is costing our town dearly, indeed the cost is in the region of £14.53m.

Surely it would have been better to spend the money putting a proper roof and doors on the recently constructed shopping centre?

Just imagine if the money had been spent investing in local business by putting Frogmoor back to an area of greenery and gardens?

There are so many other things that the money could have been spent on that would have really made a difference to the businesses, residents and visitors to Wycombe. Sadly I fear the money has been wasted keeping road surfacing contractors in a job.

If an alternative route for traffic was a priority then rather than tackling the issue of westbound traffic from the bottom of Marlow Hill to Oxford Road the alternative route should have started at Handy Cross and diverted the westbound traffic down the A4010 New Road and into the A40 West Wycombe Road.

Sadly the Masterplan appears to simply re-distribute congestion rather than tackling it at source.

If you had £14.53m to spend improving Wycombe what would you spend it on?

What do you think?

*My blogs are published every Tuesday and Friday evening around 8.00pm here on the WycombeToday.com website.

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