Town Centre Survey - Background
At a Planning Committee meeting in June 2022, Councillors discussed opportunities for funding for town centres. They agreed that it was important to identify longer term aspirations which could be delivered in stages as funds become available. They also recognised the need to consult with others, including businesses and residents, before a long-term plan could be agreed. Click here to read the minutes of the meeting (84/22 on page 3).
Town Centre Working Party
A Working Party was formed, tasked with building a progressive, stepped High Street/Town Centre plan. It will engage with businesses and the community to build this plan – and this survey is the first step towards that.
Councillor Jane Davies is the Chair, and Caroline Thomas the Vice Chair. Both represent Marlborough at a town and county level – Jane is the Wiltshire Councillor for Marlborough West, and Caroline for Marlborough East. Other members of the group are Councillors Nicholas Fogg, Jo Waltham, Mark Luson and Kelvyn Shantry together with the Town Clerk, Richard Spencer-Williams with support from the Town Council’s officers.
So far the Working Party has met 3 times, and agreed terms of reference, objectives and identified what it believes to be the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in relation to the current economic situation and the future development of the town centre. It will report back to Planning Committee meetings with recommendations.
The working party’s objectives are to:
- maximise the opportunity to engage with The Wiltshire Towns Program
- engage and work with local businesses, the community, and local organisations to develop a vision and long-term plan for ‘Marlborough Town Centre’
- create a progressive stepped ‘High Street/town’ plan with distinct outcomes to each
- include the river as a key feature
- positively support the street markets and their development
- assess and review High Street and resident parking arrangements
- include the High Street, The Parade, New Road, London Road, Hilliers Yard, Hughenden Yard, Kingsbury Street, George Lane, Coopers Meadow and Kennet Place
- encourage resident and visitor footfall and spend
- promote Marlborough as a place people want to visit
Before going further, all agreed it would be important to test the views of the working party by asking the wider community for their input. This survey is the first part of that. Once the results of the survey are known, wider engagement with the community will help to identify what actions might be taken to protect the unique, positive elements of the Town Centre now, and enhance it in future. This will help to create a vision and plan that can be implemented in steps and stages as and when funding becomes available.
The important part is having that plan prepared so that the Town Council will be ready to act as soon as funding opportunities become available.
Interested? Like to get involved? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll put you in touch with the Working Party.
Wiltshire Towns Programme
Town centres have faced a number of challenges over the previous years, often all at once, including:
- The impact of Covid-19 and related shifts in shopping patterns
- A historic reliance on a shrinking retail offer which is vulnerable to changing consumer habits such as opportunities for online shopping and out of town retail
- Long term empty units/high levels of occupant turnover and a shrinking retail offer driven by the rise in on-line shopping; absentee landlords; mixed quality redevelopment and conversions into living space; and, in some instances, problems of anti-social behaviour
An important potential funding source is The Wiltshire Towns Programme which will see £1m each year until 2025 invested into a range of different projects to attract customers and investment to Wiltshire's high streets, to help support town centres as they continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic and rise to the challenge of online shopping.