Bold ideas for town set out in new Shrewsbury ‘masterplan’

Ambitious plans for Shrewsbury have been set out in a “Masterplan Vision” for how the town could evolve over the next two decades.

An artist’s impression of a pedestrianised Shrewsbury High Street
An artist’s impression of a pedestrianised Shrewsbury High Street

The document is aimed at sparking debate about the future of the town, and explores ideas including creating a new northern entrance to the railway station and a riverside walkway and park by re-routing traffic away from Smithfield Road, and revitalising the Abbey Foregate viaduct to provide space for businesses and community events.

Several priority projects are listed in the plan, including the development of Riverside and Frankwell, the re-purposing of Pride Hill Shopping Centre which could become a cinema, and the council moving out of Shirehall and into a town centre site. Improvements to the railway station, reducing traffic and re-imagining bus services are also high priorities.

Concerns have been raised over the bus station being demolished, how changes would impact on the aesthetic of historic parts of the town centre, how travel may be impacted and how it will all be paid for, especially given the damage done to the economy by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A revamp for access to the station

But civic leaders say plans are "not set in stone", and while they believe the aspirational ideas would help improve Shrewsbury for generations to come, they are keen to hear views from the public to help firm up plans in the future.

The report has been published by urban designers Glenn Howells Architects on behalf of the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan Partnership, which is made up of Shropshire Council, Shrewsbury Town Council and Shrewsbury BID.

Dav Bansal, partner at Glenn Howells Architects, said: “We believe Shrewsbury could lead the way for others to follow with ambitious plans to ‘future-proof’ the town.

“The Masterplan Vision explores how this historic town will address the challenges of climate change, healthy places and changing trends in how we live, work, shop and play, which is now even more so relevant during this pandemic while continuing to build on the great work that has already been done in establishing the vision for the Big Town Plan.”

Themes

The report considers how Shrewsbury could develop across four interconnected themes:

  • Connecting communities

  • Quality and characterful public spaces

  • Celebrating heritage

  • Creating opportunities.

These themes and the range of ideas outlined in the report will be explored in more detail during a series of online discussion sessions taking place as part of the virtual Shrewsbury Big Town Plan Festival, running from January 19 to 29.

People are being invited to visit festival.shrewsburybigtownplan.org where they can register to join the sessions live or watch on demand. The full Masterplan Vision document is also available on the website.

Shropshire Council leader, Peter Nutting, said: “This document contains a lot of very exciting ideas and we hope it will instigate some positive discussions about the future development of Shrewsbury.

“People’s safety in the current climate is of course very much at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated significant shifts that were already happening in town centres.

Redeveloping Riverside is a priority

“It’s vital for our future prosperity that we are well placed and prepared to embrace new ways in which people will live, work and travel – standing still is not an option.”

Shrewsbury Town Council leader, Alan Mosley, added: “Shrewsbury is already a very special place and through this plan we want to ensure that our outstanding heritage and natural environment is enhanced and celebrated, whilst increasing what the town can offer to people of all ages and backgrounds."

James Handley, elected non-executive director of Shrewsbury BID, said: “It is a visionary document that we hope will inspire debate about how Shrewsbury can evolve to make the most of its rich assets and position itself in the best possible way in our rapidly-changing world.

“I would urge everyone to spend some time reading through the report and join us at the Big Town Plan Festival from January 19 when we can explore the details and discuss the wider context of how towns like Shrewsbury can thrive now and in the future.”

Visit shrewsburybigtownplan.org for more information.

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