Wychavon Borough Council: Town Centre Prospectus
The council has produced Town Centre Investment Prospectuses for three towns in the district (Droitwich Spa, Evesham and Pershore). The purpose of each prospectus is to generate future investment into each of the towns and ensure the right type, scale and diversity of development comes forward over the next 20 years. The objective is to secure both private and public sector investment to help bring forward identified key town centre development opportunities. It is critical that this pays due regard to the uniqueness of each town and their individual strengths and challenges.
Each investment prospectus identifies primary opportunity or change zone sites as well as ‘softer’, non-development-specific opportunities for intervention. Deliverability of these opportunity sites is also considered and reflected upon. There is a sliding scale or range of interventions that the council can make dependent on its appetite for change and risk.
Engaging with key stakeholders was an important, if challenging, part of developing the Investment Prospectuses. The council chose to use the opportunity presented by the COVID-19 lockdown to consider the prospects of its town centres. Engagement across the three towns was undertaken virtually. This was the first time the council had used video conferencing technology on this scale to consult on such a complex project. Although initially challenging, it was able to effectively engage with public, private and voluntary sector stakeholders through virtual workshops.
The timing meant that the prospectuses were ready to be launched as lockdown constraints were lifted, enabling the council to crack on with delivering the agreed objectives. A video explaining the project can be viewed here.
Town Centre Investment Boards have been created for each town centre to be “enablers”, to do the following:
Consult with vested interests.
Oversee the initiating of projects to the point where the following are secured: Funding, a deliverer and a sustainable operation/investment programme.
Monitor delivery and make interventions if required/allowed.
Bring about the measurement of performance/value for vested interests.
To be able to execute the above roles, the Boards identify:
Projects to meet needs/opportunities
Method of monitoring/evaluation
This is achieved with considerable support from Wychavon District Council which has appointed a dedicated Place Projects Officer for each town centre lead by a Place Boards Manager.
The role of this team is to ensure the Place Boards do not become a talking shop discussing trivial matters that are not transformational or high impact. Their objective is to maintain focus on key projects and ensure the skills/assets of the members are fully utilised.
The council has allocated significant financial resources, including UK Shared Prosperity Funds to support the delivery of projects. The Evesham Prospectus informed the submission of a £20 million Levelling Up Fund application in support of a £100 million investment proposal to redevelop the town’s failing shopping centre into a mixed residential and leisure scheme.
Each centre has its own transformational opportunities including the redevelopment of a defunct shopping centre, the construction of a new marina and the expansion of a regional Lido. Each Town Board comprises of partners from each tier of local government, local businesses, strategic investors and stakeholders representing the respective Civic Societies, Transition Groups and key associations relevant to each Town Centre.