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Reopening Tunbridge Wells

10 June 2020

Plans for a safe return to trading for Tunbridge Wells borough’s high streets are being finalised as many retailers get ready to reopen on Monday 15 June.

In readiness for the reopening the Council has been in detailed discussions with the BID (Royal Tunbridge Wells Together) and Royal Victoria Place in Royal Tunbridge Wells, and with parish and town councils to discuss arrangements in their areas. The aim is to welcome visitors to towns and villages in a way that is safe and respects social distancing.

For visitors to Royal Tunbridge Wells there may be some changes made to the way people get around town, and walking and cycling to the town centre will be encouraged. The Council is working with Kent County Council (which is responsible for the road network) to look at the addition of measures which could support social distancing and encourage walking and cycling. Ideas include 20mph in the town centre, wider pavements and one-way schemes.

Welcome back parking offer

A special welcome back parking offer is planned for the Council’s car parks (excluding Torrington) and motorists will be able to park for £2 for four hours. The offer is available to visitors who pay using the phone app RingGo.

Successful and safe reopening

Councillor Jane March, Culture, Leisure and Economic Development portfolio holder said: ‘It’s very important to the local economy for businesses to reopen and I think everyone understands that this needs to be done safely so that visitors will feel confident.

She continued: ‘The plans look to give more space to pedestrians. I am hoping people understand and support our efforts to keep them safe and follow any signs that direct them along a particular path. In Royal Tunbridge Wells ambassadors will be stationed at key points to assist visitors with information and advice.’

Ross Feeney, Chief Executive, Royal Tunbridge Wells Together said:
‘We have been working hard to support businesses in the town centre, helping them gear up for reopening. We have been providing reopening kits to all those who need them, and have been providing advice and guidance as required. Our priority is a successful and safe reopening of the town centre, and we welcome the support provided by the council. Social distancing means shopping is likely to take longer, with queues outside some stores, and as such we welcome the council’s adoption of our proposed £2 for 4 hours parking offer. The offer means visitors can do all the shopping they need without worrying about how much time it is taking. We warmly welcome this business-friendly offer and encourage local residents to visit the town centre soon.’

Nicky Blanchard, Centre Manager at Royal Victoria Place, said:
We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Royal Victoria Place, however we’re not back to ‘business as usual’ just yet.

‘In line with the latest government guidance, we have put extra safety and hygiene measures in place and will be closely managing visitor numbers, so that everyone can maintain social distancing. The centre may look slightly different when you next visit us, so please visit our website before setting off, plan ahead and look out for new signage when you arrive.’

Measures in Royal Victoria Place

Royal Victoria Place management told the Council about a number of measures they will be implementing in readiness for 15 June:

  • To help maintain social distancing, the Royal Victoria Place team will be carefully managing the number of visitors to the centre to make sure that everyone can reasonably maintain a two-metre distance, and may need to temporarily close the centre, or certain areas.
  • A ‘keep left’ system will be implemented that will direct how shoppers move around the centre, as well as allocating specific ‘in’ or ‘exit’ only entrances. New signage has been installed throughout the centre to help everyone to follow the new guidelines.
  • The Meadow Road car park is currently closed until further notice.
  • Enhanced hygiene and cleaning regimes will continue to be in place, with hand sanitising stations available to shoppers at key areas of the centre.
  • To help keep both staff and visitors safe, plexiglass screens have been fitted at all visitor desks and the Royal Victoria Place team will also be provided with suitable PPE including gloves and face masks.

Further information and details on staying safe, and what to consider before travelling to the Royal Victoria Place is available at their Planning Your Visit webpage.

Check if shops are open

Not all shops in the borough are expected to open on Monday 15 June and there may be changes to opening hours. Shoppers are advised to check in advance that the store they wish to visit to is open.

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