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Council outlines plan for Weston-super-Mare

Words: Laura Edgar
Microplan / Turner Works

North Somerset Council’s executive team has endorsed a 10-year vision that seeks to address issues faced by the high street in an inclusive way that focuses on wellbeing.

Like many areas, the town has pockets of disadvantage, which the council wants to address through projects identified as part of the strategy.

The strategy was put together following a period of consultation run by architecture firm Turner Works. It engaged with the community to find out about the history of the town and what people would like to see there. Part of this included submitting their wish lists on a postcard.

From 5,000 postcards, the top wishes cited were retail/food and drink (24 per cent); children’s activities (17 per cent); public realm (11 per cent); and green and environment improvements (11 per cent).

Guided walks were also organised as part of the consultation with the community while the Microplan page in the strategy describes a series of meanwhile uses that came from the engagement exercises.

The strategy has eight objectives – wellbeing, active, work, living, green, carbon-neutral, learning and experience. All the projects set up as part of the strategy support some or all of these. Some are already funded and under way, but North Somerset Council told The Planner that many others require investment and it is hoped that the strategy would put Weston in a better position to succeed the next time there is a Future High Street Fund or a Towns Fund round.

Opportunities for rewilding have been identified in the town centre and along the seafront, such as Marine Lake, the council explained. New cycling routes from the suburbs to the centre of Weston would be established, while the coast would become part of the national cycle network and a bike hub is to be installed in the centre.

Mark Canniford, executive member for business, economy and employment at North Somerset Council, said: “Coronavirus is accelerating fundamental changes in town centres, with the need to encourage more people to the high street higher than ever.

“This placemaking strategy sets out the council’s vision and ambitions for the town, with a concrete plan to help Weston become a healthier, greener and more prosperous place to live, work and enjoy. The strategy is an ambition to think about using space in new ways that encourage local people to utilise what Weston has to offer.”

Earlier this year the council said the strategy helped to attract a £1.7 million government grant, which will fund Weston General Stores, a project focusing on repurposing vacant retail space in the town centre.

Image credit | Turner Works