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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Residents have their say on future use of bus hub

Shoppers in Biddulph want an old bus hub to be converted into a coffee shop or a pop-up space, a survey has revealed.

More than 200 people have had their say on what they would like to see in the town centre building after its new managers asked for residents’ thoughts.

Their ideas ranged from an art gallery to a young people’s drop-in space, but there were two clear favourites at the cut-off point for responses this week – a bus hub with coffee bar, closely followed by an occasional space/pop-up shop for trial businesses.

If the ideas are realised, they will see a radical makeover of the Wharf Road hub that has been criticised in the past for not doing its job – passengers cannot see the numbers on approaching buses until it is too late.

Having taken over the management of the bus hub last year, Biddulph Town Council wanted to use the opportunity to give it the revamp that some say it needs.

Chief officer Sarah Haydon talked members through the survey results at a meeting of the council’s Finance Strategy and Management Committee last Tuesday.

She said: “When we took over the management of the bus hub, we were keen to make sure that our management was in keeping with what visitors to the town centre wanted.

“Anecdotally, we understand that the bus hub does not do what it is meant to do because you cannot see the number of the bus as it is coming in, so by the time it gets to the stop, you might have missed the bus – it is not the best design.

“We decided to use the opportunity to ask what people would like to see the building used for and the results were quite interesting.”

She explained that around 47% of respondents went for the coffee bar option, while 45% liked the pop-up shop idea. Less popular answers included a hire shop and an educational space.

Mrs Haydon added: “Our objective was to find out what people thought about the bus hub and what they would like its future use to be. They seem to want to partly keep it as it is, but with added things like a coffee shop facility, and something else on an ad-hoc basis.”

Independent Coun John Jones said: “The council previously discussed this being a café and an occasional pop-up space, so the responses fall in line with what we were thinking, which is encouraging.”

Labour Coun Jill Salt asked how old the respondents were as it was important to “think about young people in the town centre”.

It was explained that the survey did not ask for ages, but that the majority of the council’s social media followers were older than 35 and it could be assumed that because the questionnaire was advertised on social media, it was mostly people from this age group that responded.

Mrs Haydon confirmed that follow-up work directly with younger people would take place to see whether there was a facility that could be provided for them.

As well as giving a picture of how residents envisaged the future of the hub, the survey shed some light on the habits of those who visit the town centre.

Most people who responded to the questionnaire said that they visited the high street between two and four times a week, and when asked if they visited the high street at the weekend, the majority said they did.

Almost 60% of respondents got to the town centre by car, although a significant amount of them walked. However, less than 5% said that they took a bus, which could suggest that continuing with the hub’s original use was not worthwhile.

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