In early 2022, working alongside NEW Masterplanning, Urban Movement and G L Hearn, we completed a Vision and Masterplan for Newbury town centre. Meetings and workshops were held with a range of businesses, residents’ groups, students, and other stakeholders. Our digital public survey received over 4,000 responses, allowing us to develop a Vision which understood the needs of all the residents, including its extensive rural catchment.
The Vision reminded Newbury of the historic importance of its ‘crossroads’, the meeting point of its main street and waterway, and the need to celebrate this area as a focus for social and economic interaction.
The sustainable movement and public realm strategy paid particular attention to the ‘High Street’, identifying flexible ways to retain essential access but maximise the potential of the street as a public space, creating more opportunities for eating and drinking, markets and events. Locations were identified for ‘parklets’ to help green the High Street and proposals were made to trial the extended closure of the street during the Summer months.
Transport modeling showed the potential to extend the hours of pedestrianisation without unacceptable congestion elsewhere, making the town centre more attractive for walking and cycling. Pedestrian and cycle routes across the A339 were addressed, and arrival at the bus station was enhanced with safer and more attractive waiting areas and better connections to the ‘High Street.’
Walking and cycling routes will be enhanced along the river, with a wayfinding strategy and new crossings to connect the town centre better with Victoria Park. Working with creative organisations in Newbury, the shortage of events space within the town centre was addressed by making more efficient use of multi-storey car parks, freeing up a surface car park as a new public space on the waterfront, showcasing Newbury’s historic museum and other cultural facilities. This also addressed a key concern of younger people in Newbury, the lack of social space to meet friends and ‘hang out’
We worked with owners of the shopping centres to address the loss of key anchors including John Lewis and Debenhams. Options were identified including a mix of small business workspace, cultural and community space, foodhalls and residential development. Measures were proposed to enhance opportunities for smaller and independent businesses, with shopfront and streetscape improvements to create a stronger local identity, and a focus on specialist markets across the town centre. Measures were identified to promote the distinctive Lanes and Yards and to increase pedestrian flow to these independent areas.
View the report in full here.