A new era for Stratford’s most famous street will dawn on Monday, with a £1.2million project to transform Henley Street set to get underway.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) has funded the scheme to the tune of £462,000, with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Stratford District Council stumping up the rest of the cash.
Part of the project, the opening of a new destination café, has already been completed, after SBT started welcoming customers to Will’s Kitchen in November.
However extensive street-scene improvements are scheduled to start from Monday (6th January).
Such work, will include the repaving of the street, the installation of new street lighting and seating, while hostile vehicle mitigation measures are being incorporated to make the street as safe as possible.
Street furniture will also be replaced and there will be a general decluttering of the current fixtures.
As part of a rolling programme of work on the south west side of Henley Street, pavements along both sides of the street will be laid first, before work gets underway on the central section and the new statue near the junction with Meer Street.
However with contractors set to be on site until mid-April, working from 7am-4pm on weekdays until then, Henley Street businesses may be set for a period of disruption.
Janine Morris, manager of Crystals on Henley Street, said: “I think when the work is done it will be great for Henley Street, you can’t make things better without making a bit of a mess first. I’m hoping it won’t affect us too much, there’s not really any way of knowing until it actually begins. I think the cafes with outdoor seating are the ones that will be affected the most by this.”
Mike Bonner of Timeless Tales, said: “It will be an upheaval, but January to April is the best time for them to do it as far as we’re concerned, it’s dead as a dodo during those months. It should look really nice when it’s done.”
Cllr Tony Jefferson, Leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council and board director at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, says: “These are exciting times for Stratford-upon-Avon with this significant investment to revitalise Henley Street as the gateway to one of the world’s great cultural destinations. This is crucial at a time when the tourism industry is becoming increasingly more competitive and I’m grateful to the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership for reflecting this with significant investment in our town.
“As with any project on this scale, there will be some level of disruption whilst these works are being carried out and I would like to thank the locals and businesses in the area for their co-operation, patience and understanding.”
A motivation for such major investment into Henley Street is to ensure Stratford can continue to attract visitors amid growing competition from Shakespeare’s Globe in London.
One of the reasons the Henley Street improvements were awarded funding from the CWLEP was that the project could be delivered before Coventry’s year as the UK’s capital of culture in 2021.
Stratford has previously missed out on funding from the CWLEP, such as cash to improve Birmingham Road, because it could be demonstrated that the project was ‘shovel ready’.