We see the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan as a blueprint for how County Towns or other towns might adapt and evolve in the middle part of the 21st Century. As the birthplace of the father of evolutionary science we want to celebrate Darwin’s legacy by developing the Big Town Plan as a blueprint for thoughtful and purposeful change and adaptation in the Town into the future.
We recognise how special Shrewsbury is and we want to direct and manage change in a way that is sensitive to its identity and its character and respectful of its heritage. Our Big Town Vision supports the Local Plan to provide balanced growth over the next two decades in a way that is centred on people and place, with more attention directed to encouraging development and life in the town centre and those places on the edge of the town centre that are in need of new life and new purpose. We also want to make those places on the edge of town better connected, giving them identity and character that makes them better places and feel a greater part of Shrewsbury.
By 2036, we picture a Shrewsbury where in amongst the familiar landmarks and the timeless streets are exciting new and re-used buildings and new spaces where new life and new activities have taken hold. Parts of the town that were once dormant have now been re-colonised. Around the Station and the northern corridor, it feels very different.
Great new buildings rub shoulders with re-used older buildings. New workers and residents pour in and out of the station, under the brightly-lit railway arches and colonise new cafes and the new square in front of the Station. Cyclists make their way along the new “low-line” green corridor along the former canal to the busy Flaxmill Maltings.
Traffic in the town centre is very light and slow-moving. Pedestrians and cyclists can walk and move wherever they want, making the streets their own. Accessing the historic town from the riverside now feels intuitive as new buildings and public realm create sight lines and visually exciting routes that draw you to discover new places that link Pride Hill with a new traffic-free riverside promenade.
Shopping patterns have changed, the independents and destination brands are thriving, people spend more time in town, browsing, shopping, eating and drinking in roof-top bars and visiting the cinema. In the evening, people stroll up and down Smithfield, now free of traffic. New housing overlooks the river where the multi-storey and bus station used to be and people sit out in new cafés enjoying the view and the evening sun.
The Market is going from strength to strength and around it are clusters of new business start-ups, many connected to the growing University. The West End has changed too, the network of streets and spaces including Mardol are largely traffic-free. Surface car parks have been repurposed and replaced with capacity at the edges of the town centre with clear routes to move people into and around the town centre so the town remains accessible to all and the environment more welcoming. In their place are a vibrant mix of uses including new parts of the University, workspace and apartments. It feels very different walking down to Victoria Quay or to the Quarry with new, high quality pedestrian routes.
The whole town is much better connected by cycle or on foot, in a safe way, avoiding conflict with vehicular traffic . It is possible now to make your way across town by cycle or on foot. Not only is there a great network of routes into town but there are now new links to the River too and routes leading out into the wider countryside. Places on the edge of town that once felt a bit soulless have changed too. Old-style retail and employment parks are now mixed-use places with new housing, parks and greenspaces and links into town. There are now much closer networks and links between the Hospital, healthcare, sports and leisure and schools and colleges.
We make decisions differently now. The Big Town Plan means that we test everything against the vision. New development and new infrastructure has to pass what we will call “the Shrewsbury Test “. – referenced as the Shrewsbury Development Strategy (CS2) in the adopted Core Strategy. Does it support our vision? Does it strengthen the identity of Shrewsbury? Is it right for that part of town and most importantly, does it make life better for people?