Another step forward for Wincanton’s Town Centre Strategy
Following public consultation earlier in the year, at its meeting last week, the Council’s Area East Committee approved amendments to the Wincanton Town Centre Strategy - representatives of Wincanton Town Council and the Chamber of Commerce both attended the meeting to speak in support of the strategy.
Wincanton Town Centre Strategy aims to boost footfall and help create a more vibrant town centre, in which Wincanton’s businesses can flourish.
The strategy provides a frameworks which seeks to:
- Encourage quality investment from private and public sector
- Improve the town centre environment & commercial confidence
- Inform future decision making
- Co-ordinate town centre activities/management to achieve complementary improvements
- Promote and market the town centre
- Encourage and support partnerships to collaborate on implementing the strategy
Improvements to the town centre environment are suggested through a number of public realm schemes (widening footways, introducing different surface dressings, better delineation of on street parking and planting schemes) these proposals will be subject to detailed design work but the suggested locations are:
- Market Place
- High Street (central area no’s 7-15 and the eastern gateway)
- Carrington Way
This complements another strand of work, with owners to increase the appeal of existing properties, incentivising occupancy and a possible grant programme.
The consultation period (which ended 31 March) provided an opportunity for members of the public as well as a variety of key stakeholders such as the Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce, pupils from King Arthurs School and community organisations to engage and provide feedback on proposals prepared by Chilmark Consulting, who had been recruited by SSDC to prepare the strategy.
Although the consultation suggested general support for the strategy, some site specific concerns were raised and some common themes emerged from the feedback including:
- Loss of car parking
- Charging for use of public car parks
- The level of proposed residential development
- Need to enhance the retail offer
- Limited number of events/markets
- Limited mix of uses
The consultation responses together with a review of deliverability informed a number of suggested revisions to the strategy including a reduction in the number of residential units and preservation of car parking. These revisions were unanimously supported by Councillors.
A similar approach has been adopted in Chard and Yeovil town centres which are further on in the process; good progress is being made to bring forward improvements in both towns. Wincanton Town Centre Strategy is a priority in South Somerset District Council’s Plan 2016-2021
Councillor Henry Hobhouse, Area East Committee Chairman and portfolio holder for Wincanton regeneration, said: “Today’s approval is a significant step towards regenerating Wincanton town centre, there are several businesses which are doing a terrific job drawing people to the town; we want to work with those businesses and other stakeholders to support activities and projects which bring people to the town centre”
“We are at the start of an exciting process, the next step will be to work with partners to prepare a delivery plan and begin the process of securing the funding needed to implement the proposals.”