Fresh new vision for historic gateway into Shrewsbury
A project to scope ideas for breathing new life into the Castle Street area of Shrewsbury has begun.
The regeneration project is part of the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan and will result in a number of ideas for how the area could be improved.
One of the key themes in the plan is creating and nurturing vitality, life and a mix of uses and this project will look at the great assets around Castle Street – its buildings, spaces and people who work, live and use the area to look at ways to animate its use now and in the future.
Independent consultancy, LDA Design, has been appointed to lead the work and is now in the process of speaking to people and businesses in Castle Street about the way forward.
Seb Slater, of Shrewsbury BID, which is part of the Big Town Plan partnership alongside Shrewsbury Town Council and Shropshire Council, said he was looking forward to the project getting under way.
“We have been able to secure some funding from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership which has enabled us to get going with this project, which is great,” he said.
“LDA Design was appointed following an independent tender process and the consultants are now working closely with the Big Town Plan partnership to develop proposals to improve Castle Street.
“These could include the re-purposing and re-configuration of existing buildings, as well as small-scale projects, such as new public spaces or improved signage, which could be delivered quickly.”
LDA Design is working with property regeneration consultants AspinallVerdi to produce a key delivery strategy which will set out ideas for improving the public space and possible development opportunities.
Mark Graham, of LDA Design, said the team was now meeting with businesses and the wider Castle Street community to discuss ideas.
He said: “An important point to make is that there are already some positive things happening in Castle Street, with a number of independent shops opening in recent months.
“There is a real energy and a key priority for us is to support and build on that momentum.
“We are currently engaging with people through a series of one-to-one meetings and design workshops to get a thorough understanding of how the area functions and what needs to happen to make things better.
“So we are discussing everything from how Castle Street is perceived compared to other parts of the town, to the practicalities of waste collections and street signs.”
The report is due to be published at the end of October, with physical improvements expected to get under way over the coming year.
Consultants are also due to be appointed to work on six masterplans which will form a major part of the next phase of the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan. Applications were being taken up to August 30, with an appointment expected later this month.
The appointed consultant will work closely with the Big Town Plan team, engaging with relevant land owners, occupiers, partners and stakeholders to co-create a vision and development framework for Castle Street.
Councillor Alan Mosley, leader of Shrewsbury Town Council, welcomed the news.
He said: “Castle Street and the area around the railway station is a key gateway for our town and being able to present this area in the best possible way for visitors, residents and those considering investment in the town is very important.”
Councillor Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, said: “Despite relatively high footfall we know that Castle Street could do better economically, and this important work will help us to achieve this aim."
Town council clerk Helen Ball said: "Castle Street is a main gateway into the town centre and it sets the stance of what people think about this town, so it is important we do anything we can to make it more vital and viable.
"At the moment we are just seeing what ideas a consultant could come up with. They will look at what Castle Street already has and what potential there is for the future.
"There is a lot of vacant premises on the top floor currently and you will often find that because of the historic nature of the town and its buildings, you can't access the top floor without going through the bottom floor. It would be interested to open up the top levels and if there is any other uses for them. This might mean changing shop fronts so there is independent access to the other floors."
The council, and town plan partners Shrewsbury Business Improvement District and Shrewsbury Town Council, have chosen six areas for regeneration in the town which show the “biggest opportunities to grow and revitalise the town”. This includes the Castle Street area which forms part of the ‘Central Business District’, which also includes the Riverside, a ‘Northern Corridor’ from the central business district to the redeveloped Flaxmill Maltings, and the ‘historic quarter of the town’ which includes Wyle Cop, St Mary’s Street, Pride Hill, High Street and The Square.
Other areas are the ‘West End’, incorporating Mardol, Barker Street, Bellstone, Lower Claremont Bank, Bridge Street, St Austin’s Street, and Victoria Avenue and Quay, The ‘Riverside and Frankwell Quay’ areas, incorporating both sides of the River Severn as it passes Frankwell and Smithfield Road and English Bridge, Abbey Foregate and Old Pott’s Way.
Castle Street has also been chosen by students from the Manchester School of Architecture as their latest project.
They will visit the town and come up with ideas to make the most of the area's unique architecture.
For more information about the Big Town Plan, visit www.shrewsburybigtownplan.org