Town Centres and High Streets
Re-shaping our town centres and high streets to meet the needs of existing and future residents and businesses.
On this page:
- Newbury Town Centre Masterplan
- Vision for Newbury Town Centre
- The Wharf Project
- Thatcham and Hungerford Town Centres
- Bond Riverside
- Vision for Bond Riverside
West Berkshire is a desirable place to live and work, with its mix of beautiful countryside, excellent connectivity, picturesque villages, and bustling towns. We are committed to supporting our town centres and high streets to meet the needs of existing and future residents and businesses for years to come.
We have commissioned the first of a series of town centre studies designed to look in more detail at the specific issues facing our three town centres: Newbury, Thatcham, and Hungerford. This was done by working collaboratively with residents, businesses, and stakeholders in each town to come up with a vision and a delivery strategy that addresses their specific challenges and maximises their opportunities for the benefit of all.
We are also supporting our town centres and high streets in very practical ways, including:
- by supporting the Newbury BID (Business Improvement District) as it seeks a fourth term to continue its work to establish Newbury as a go-to destination for businesses and visitors
- by developing three town centre strategies for Newbury, Thatcham, and Hungerford; these place-shaping initiatives were developed in line with our Council Strategy and in support of our Local Plan
- by holding town centre steering groups in Thatcham, Newbury, and Hungerford, which allow us to work closely with stakeholders and move forward with projects from the Town Centre Strategies together, along with keeping up to date with what is going on in each town
Over 4,000 people responded to the first online public survey in early 2021 to give their views on Newbury's strengths and weaknesses and the vast majority of these were welcoming of change. This led to the development of a draft Vision and Spatial Framework for the town centre, which places the concept of the 'Crossroads' at its heart, and aims to ensure that as Newbury responds to the need for change, it remembers its market town heritage, and remains a focus for social interaction, economic growth, civic engagement and community activities. This vision was endorsed and further refined following a second online survey and public engagement session in July 2021, during which over 1,000 responses were received.
The Masterplan document, which includes baseline assessments, the vision, spatial masterplan and strategies for 'public realm and movement' and 'branding and events' as well as a delivery strategy, was endorsed by the Council's Executive on 10 February. We are now working with partners and stakeholders, including Newbury Town Council, Newbury BID and external funding bodies to work up and deliver a range of exciting projects to deliver the vision in the short, medium and longer term. Read more about the Newbury Town Centre steering group on our Town Centre Governance web page.
We have prepared some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about the Masterplan and you can view both documents below.
Newbury will continue to be a successful, modern market town by ensuring it is a place that:
- promotes its heritage and independent identity
- is innovative and entrepreneurial, able to respond quickly to economic change
- is social and welcoming, where people gather to meet and celebrate
- is green in the widest sense, promoting sustainability, biodiversity and healthy living
- listens to the needs of its urban and rural community
West Berkshire Council have commissioned Adams & Sutherland, a multidisciplinary architectural and urban landscape consultancy to begin the first phase of work on the Wharf project this autumn, one of the town centre projects detailed in the Newbury Masterplan.
We have secured £375K of external funding from the Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership and a further £420K from the UK Shared Prosperity fund for the Wharf project, which has been allocated to delivering projects A and C.
The findings in the Newbury Masterplan highlighted the Wharf as an area of priority to improve. The Masterplan proposes that the area is redeveloped into a new multi-purpose space. The vision entails transforming the car park within the Wharf into a new social and events space, which will have the capacity to hold events, improve visitor experience and help to better connect Newbury town centre.
To encourage the Wharf being used for the purpose of events the Economic Development team at West Berkshire Council funded the closure of the Wharf car park for the Mo and the Red Ribbon event hosted by the Corn Exchange and 101 Outdoor Arts. This saw around 3,000 people gathered at the Wharf to see the story of Mo demonstrating the potential of this space.
Adams & Sutherland worked with West Berkshire Council in April 2022 when they developed an outline design and feasibility study for the Wharf. A planning application has been submitted for phase 1 of the Wharf project, which involves improvements to the public access along the waterfront (project A) and a peace garden (project C). Both projects are set to improve and transform the current space into a more inviting and welcoming place.
The Waterfront (Project A):
- redefine the Wharf edge and transform into a more inviting and welcoming place
- activate the space with improved provision for leisure and purposeful street furniture
- introduce a new strip of surface which cradles the waterfront unifying the space
- address the edge condition by installing new hardwood edging along the length of the waterfront
The Peace Garden (Project C):
- a new adjusted landscape with revived character
- opportunity to create a more formal garden with dense planting supported by seating integrated into the landscape
- planters both within existing soft landscape and extending onto hard landscape
- improved visual connectivity with Waterfront
- new path structure
The strategies have been developed with local communities, businesses, stakeholders, both Thatcham and Hungerford Town Councils and Hungerford Town and Manor. This has been in the form of workshops and an online public survey which received 1,700 responses. We would like to thank everyone who took part in the public consultation that helped to drive the study forward.
The development of town centre strategies marks the beginning of a much longer engagement process with the project stakeholders and communities in Hungerford and Thatcham, enabling us to work together towards prioritising and refining the proposed projects within the strategies for each town.
The next step in this process is setting up steering groups in both Hungerford and Thatcham. In the spirit of local decision-making, all the steering groups will now be chaired by a member of their respective town councils. The purpose of these group is for representatives of businesses, the town councils, and other stakeholders to come together to help guide the programme, collaborate on projects wherever possible and consider further funding opportunities.
We have now began hosting both the Thatcham and Hungerford Town Centre steering group meetings. We look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders and moving forward with each Strategy. Find the latest meeting minutes and keep up to date with our progress on our Town Centre Governance web page.
Our collaborative approach will ensure vibrant, sustainable and inclusive town centres that benefit everyone.
Find each town's final strategy below:
Regeneration of the Council-owned Bond Riverside (LRIE) on the eastern edge of Newbury town centre is part of our strategic commitment to deliver local infrastructure to support and grow the local economy. We are progressing our vision to transform this 11-hectare Council-owned site - we have already delivered a new road junction on the A339 to unlock the site for development, with the help of funding from the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
The delivery of a mixed-use site that delivers economic growth, an improved local environment within which to work, travel and live, and provides effective links to the town centre.
Approved by Executive on 17 December 2020