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Walsall town centre masterplan FAQs

Walsall town centre is not alone, nationally town centres are facing a period of instability with well-known challenges and demands as a result of changes in the retail industry and changing consumer behaviour driven by technology and economic conditions.  Town centres will need to undergo a period of adaption to be able to address these challenges.  Please visit the The Guardian Website for further information.

Walsall town centre serves as the main centre for the borough. It is the primary location for retail and is the focus for key transport links.  It is also home to major educational and local government uses, as well as offices and leisure attractions. For that reason it is a vital hub for local people local. It is important therefore to focus investment in creating a competitive and thriving town centre that is attractive and accessible for all Walsall residents and for visitors.  A town centre that everyone can be proud of and that can provide economic and social benefits for all it residents.

Unfortunately, the masterplan cannot directly influence the commercial decisions made by major retailers on where they choose to locate.  It can however provide more certainty to the market about the investment opportunities Walsall can and will offer into the future, which could potentially attract new businesses/retailers to choose Walsall as location in which to trade.  The masterplan will therefore be a powerful tool in enabling this.

The Council believes that for the benefit of the town as a whole it is important to have a successful town centre.  Commissioning a masterplan is an important first step in setting out a vision and strategy to focus improvements and physical changes that are needed over the next 10-15 years for Walsall town centre to be a resilient, thriving town centre that people choose to visit and spend time in.  Many other town centres are currently going through the same process, so this is not an uncommon approach.

Town centres up and down the country are facing similar challenges and are having to re-think how their town centres can respond to the changes effecting traditional retailing.  Here is an example of a comparable sized town in North East England facing similar problems that has undergone positive changes as a result of a proactive approach, which included the provision of a masterplan.

The masterplan will be not be able to directly target these specific day to day issues.  However, the Masterplan will put in place a process to implement physical changes to the town centre environment. Through targeted investment in public realm and redevelopment proposals, it is hoped that a more diverse range of uses could introduced to complement the existing retail offer. These measure will improve the vibrancy and vitality of the town centre, design out the potential for anti-social behaviour and ultimately make it safer and engender more positive interactions to take place in the town centre.

The masterplan will put a strategy in place to try and reduce the rate of retail vacancy in the town centre.  The Council will be look at various measures resulting from recommendations made in the masterplan.  This could include, for example, redevelopment of sites for alternative uses, which would encourage a diversification of uses in the town centre and not make it overly reliant on its retail offer.

The masterplan will offer recommendations on measures the Council could take to enhance the night/evening-time experience.  This may be to target improvements to public realm in the focal area for night time activity; measures could include diversifying the range of night/evening-time uses with alternative options to bars/clubs, to encourage families to feel safe enough to visit the town centre in the evening.

The masterplan’s primary purpose will be to develop a programme for physical transformation in the town centre over the next 10-15 years.  This physical transformation could enable the provision of space, which could encourage the delivery of a programme of town centre events in future.

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