A £9million grant from Government may not be enough to transform the route from Salisbury's railway station into the city centre.

That's according to "disappointed " councillors at an area board meeting on Thursday night (January 21).

On Boxing day last year Salisbury was awarded £9,355,731 from the Government’s £1billion pot of money - called the Future High Streets Fund - to revive town centres across the country.

Around £14.3million had originally been requested for the city, in its bid to connect Salisbury Railway Station to the rest of the centre in a more attractive way.

This is in addition to Fisherton Street becoming an inviting and walkable space and creating more apartments.

But because the city received less money than it asked for, decision makers are having to think about what they can achieve with the Government grant.

Other towns in Wiltshire received more money than Salisbury from Government, with Swindon getting what it asked for (more than £20m) and Trowbridge promised £16,347,056.

Some ideas will have to be dropped

One councillor warned enticing designs considered in recent years to improve Fisherton Street may have to be dropped because the grant from the Future High Streets Fund was not enough.

But others at this week's area board meeting insisted positive changes were still possible.

"We are looking at what can we deliver in each, what's the essential element," said head of South Wilts economic recovery Victoria Molony.

She added: "It's really early days, there are obviously a lot of options on the table and we are going to consider all of them to make sure we get the best outcome."

Describing Fisherton Street as "barely walkable", Victoria said: "I have not walked down Fisherton Street once without having to step into the road.

"And for wheelchair users, mothers with prams, anyone with any sort of mobility issue, that is not a great experience and it's not a welcoming experience.

"It certainly doesn't draw people from the station into the city centre."

Despite voicing his gratitude for receiving any funding from the Government, Councillor Brian Dalton said he was "disappointed" with the £9million figure, and creating new apartments will "eat a lot of money up".

He added: "The schemes that we've been shown over the last couple of years, obviously now some of them are not going to happen.

"Those that do will probably not be as good as they should be."

Victoria assured the area board the critical elements of the initial scheme will be safeguarded.

Call for return of 'People Friendy Streets' low traffic measures

Cllr John Walsh asked how the regeneration project could go ahead without the implementation of the People Friendly Streets scheme - low traffic measures which were indefinitely suspended last year - along Fisherton Street.

He said: "We both know there's only so much room on Fisherton Street and if you're going to widen the pavements that means vehicles won't have as much space realistically.

"It's quite difficult to do that, given all this traffic still pouring down towards the centre.

"Surely we're going to have to bring in the friendly street project if we're really to develop this.

"I think it would be marvellous for Fisherton Street, there are some really interesting shops."

Despite this Victoria reminded councillors that the Future High Streets Fund and PFS were never linked.

Plans for Fisherton Street were flexible enough to stand on their own, working alongside other projects going on in the city, she said.

What next for Future High Streets fund cash in Salisbury?

Projects using the Future High Streets funding must be delivered by March, 2024.

Ending the discussion at the area board meeting, Cllr Ricky Rogers said: "I think we're all disappointed we didn't get the full funding.

"I sincerely hope now that we work with the funding we've got.

"This is a really good opportunity now to consult the topic again, consult local businesses, 'this is what we've got and this is what we can do', and take people along with us and get an outcome that everybody is happy with.

"That's the real challenge now with this pot of money - to get an outcome that everybody can live with and everybody will want."

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