Shrewsbury masterplan draws scepticism, but public urged to have their say

A "masterplan" setting out how the future of a town could look in decades to come has drawn scepticism.

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

But despite concerns over Shrewsbury's public transport and its historical architecture, people have been urged to take time to thoroughly read and understand the document before they comment.

The masterplan, aimed at sparking debate about the future of the town, was released last week 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.

Shrewsbury Civic Society's Byron Grainger-Jones said it is important that those interested in the future of the town read it and respond.

"There are some issues, like the need to give greater protection and facilities for pedestrians and the need to reduce traffic. A lot will depend on what happens with the North West Relief Road. We don't know whether that will reduce traffic.

"Another one of the things we're concerned about is public transport and the lack of a bus station in the town centre. I don't see that the Big Town Plan is doing much to protect the historic architecture. We remain sceptical.

"I hope the public do respond. It is very important. There will be individual planning applications that come as a result of it."

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

The cohort is holding the Big Town Festival online from January 19, which will be a range of talks to discuss the detail in more depth.

Visit shrewsburybigtownplan.org for more information and to view the masterplan document.

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