'Let's make Shrewsbury iconic': Vision for town's future now a step closer
A vision for the future of Shrewsbury has moved a step forward, with the promise of an "iconic place" to live, work and shop.
Those involved in the Big Shrewsbury Town Plan took a walking tour of the town yesterday to discuss how it should develop.
Re-routing roads, building swaps, glass elevators, tunnels, plazas, and free electric buses were all ideas mooted by Shropshire councillors.
Shropshire Council has revealed some of its ideas to make the county town an iconic place to live and visit for future generations.
Specialists LDA Design were appointed earlier this year to work with Shrewsbury BID, Shrewsbury Town Council and Shropshire Council on the next phase of the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan.
Members of the council's place overview committee took the walking tour of the town with the council's key account and investment manager Claire Evans.
Chairman of the committee, Councillor Gwilym Butler said the plan was an exciting prospect for the council.
He said: "It's unbelievably exciting and is an opportunity to leave a legacy behind, not just for the people who live in the county town but for everyone.
"I hope we can do something that the future generations will look back on as something iconic – like we do with the Tudor buildings. I want them to say, look this is what happened at the start of the 21st century and they got it right.
"With the way the world is changing, we need to make sure we make the best of the beautiful assets that, at the moment, appear to be hidden."
Members of the committee took a tour of the town and focussed on areas they'd like to see a transformation, including Victoria Quay, Mardol, Raven Meadows and the bus station.
Claire said the area near The Tannery, which is currently being transformed into student accommodation and office space, has also been highlighted as an area of interest.
"Nearby we've also got the beautiful Rowley's House and further up the street the market hall," she said. "One of the things mooted was possibly getting rid of the traffic, because it makes it hard to navigate, and creating some sort of plaza.
"For example, Shrewsbury Town have got to the final of the Checkatrade Trophy in Wembley and at the moment there's nowhere for fans to congregate in town, or nowhere for a team bus to stop with the trophy if they were to win. The Big Shrewsbury Town Plan is asking us all to think about things like this and what we'd like to see."
'We need to really show off the river'
Key stakeholders in the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan have taken part in a series of workshops and meetings with creative consultants this week.
They met with LDA Design to create the masterplan for the town and build on a public consultation in which more than 2,500 comments and ideas from the public were collected.
It is believed they will design a 3D model and an online version for the public to see the vision once it is complete.
Shropshire Council has identified a number of key areas it would like to see improved in the future, including Shrewsbury’s town centre shopping centres.
Earlier this year the authority finalised the purchase of the Charles Darwin and Pride Hill shopping centres and the leasehold of the Riverside Shopping Centre. They also bought the leasehold of the Riverside Medical Practice.
Councillor Gwilym Butler said he would possibly like to see the town’s historic 70 steps walkway, which was built as a shortcut between the Pride Hill shops and Raven Meadows, replaced with a glass elevator.
“It’s full of graffiti, it’s dark and people don’t want to use them,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a glass elevator so when you go up you have a beautiful view of the river.
“We need to really show off the river and make the most of it. If we get the North West Relief Road I’d like to see people being able to access to the town via the river like a boat park and ride. How exciting would that be for children to come in on a boat taxi.”
He also suggested pedestrianising the area running alongside the River Severn and re-routing Smithfield Road to the other side of Theatre Severn by building a new bridge. “It’s nice to have the opportunity to throw ideas into the pan even if it’s a 50-year plan,” he added.
Claire Evans, Shropshire Council’s key account and investment manager, said going forward, building swaps could be something to explore.
“There are some huge and beautiful buildings in Shrewsbury that are not being used to their full potential,” she said. “Are we in a position that we can do building swaps between businesses? It’s something we should be looking into.”
She also said the council was keen to develop the area near the train station.
“It’s such a key area of the town because we have the Dana and our beautiful, historic station,” Claire said.
“But I understand a large part of it is empty, especially on the upper floors so we need to look at making the most of that.
"Throughout the consultation it was also mooted about greening the whole area. The area outside the station, going under the bridge, is one of the most highly polluted placed in the country, so I understand.”
LDA Design has recently worked on transforming Gloucester and Plymouth city centres, and the People’s Playground in Blackpool.
Claire said the company regularly creates plans for towns and cities without bus stations which could mean the end for the site in Raven Meadows.
She added: “LDA have worked on a lot of places that now don’t have a bus station, they just stop on the street. And there could be a focus on electric buses that take people on a loop of the town that would be free if they’d paid to park in the car parks.”
Once the masterplan is completed and adopted, it will act as the main blueprint for the town. The next step is sourcing funding for the projects.