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Major new study into the future uses of Newbury town centre

Study will set out how the town centre can evolve in the coming years

Market Place, Newbury

West Berkshire Council has appointed a multi-disciplinary team to undertake a major new study into the future uses of Newbury Town Centre. Led by HemingwayDesign, the team includes New Masterplanning, GL Hearn and Urban Movement.

The study, which will start with an online survey (details below), will include extensive engagement with the local community, a detailed analysis of the town's needs, and a masterplan. It will be developed over the next nine months and will outline how the town centre can evolve in the future. It forms a key part of the Council's robust response to the pandemic and will have a unique role to play for businesses, residents and other stakeholders.

The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of strong community links and the council is inviting all with an interest in the town to have their say and be part of the conversation about its future.  The study will take into account the significant changes in the retail and hospitality industries and the impact of Covid-19 in accelerating the review of alternative uses for town centres and public spaces. The Council and the team would like to further understand and provide solutions for some of the most important issues that affect local communities, including: a stronger economy; improved public health; protection of the most vulnerable; equality of opportunity; better stewardship of the natural environment; and a stronger sense of community.

Speaking about the upcoming and future work, Councillor Lynne Doherty, Leader of West Berkshire Council, said:

"We're really excited to be partnering with the HemingwayDesign led- team on this key strategic project.

"When we first decided to bring a partner on board to plan for Newbury's future, we couldn't have imagined that we'd be doing so in the midst of a pandemic. It's clear that Covid has accelerated some of the changes we were already seeing on high streets across the country and we feel that now is precisely the right time to consider how we can sustain the vibrancy of our largest town.

"Newbury has a lot to offer already with its mix of green spaces, independent shops and strong cultural heritage. We want to build on this even further, ensuring that the town continues to be a great place to live and work and developing a plan of which the whole community can be proud."

Wayne Hemingway of HemingwayDesign, said:

"There is a societal shift in terms of shopping, work patterns and what people want from their town centres and Newbury has all the ingredients to embrace this shift, move with the times and become an even more inspirational and welcoming place for residents, businesses and their employees and visitors to the town. We believe that positive change is necessary, desirable and within reach. The best way that any design team can start is by listening to the people who know best and that is the residents, businesses and their employees and the wider Newbury community. So we urge you all to complete the survey, which takes 10 minutes, and provide us your feedback. Please share the survey with your family, and everyone you know - spread the word far and wide. We look forward to hearing from you."

The Newbury town centre survey is at https://www.newburytowncentremasterplan.co.uk/ will be open until 23:59 on 31st January. The team will then review the feedback and report back and outline next steps in this process.