To consider the Head of Economy, Planning and Strategic Housing’s Report No. EPSH1957 (copy attached) which sets out the seven strands of the Aldershot Town Centre Strategy and provides details on the current position and next steps. The Board are asked to consider three elements of the evidence base and their implications for the Town Centre Strategy. The elements are:
· Civic Society vision document
· Work on independent business uses and consultation carried out by the Rushmoor Leadership group
· Parking study
The Board received the Head of Economy, Planning and Strategic Housing’s Report No. EPSH1957 which set out the seven strands of the Aldershot Town Centre Strategy and provided details on the current position and next steps. The Board considered three elements of the evidence base and their implications for the Strategy which were: the Aldershot Civic Society Town Centre Vision; ideas from the Rushmoor Leadership project group to attract and grow independent business uses; and, the Aldershot Parking Study.
The Council had been working with the Aldershot Civic Society and the Aldershot Task Force to shape a longer-term town centre strategy and to enable consultation and engagement with the wider community, including residents and other stakeholders. As a result of the engagement, the Aldershot Civic Society had drafted a community-led ‘Town Centre Vision’ based around ten key themes:
· Communicating Aldershot – supporting the physical transformation and looking forward to the future, ideas included a centrally located information centre, a website and phone app.
· Future Development – providing policy compliant quality affordable housing contributing positively to existing Victorian heritage.
· Public Realm – a welcoming, accessible and high quality town centre which was easy to move around.
· Feeling Safe – a town centre with good lighting and alternatives to CCTV to address anti-social behaviour.
· Transport, access and movement – promoting active use of the town centre, ideas included free short-term parking, removal of street clutter and increased cycle provision.
· Entertainment, events and activities – creating a sense of pride and ownership and increasing footfall and prosperity of businesses in the town.
· Facilities and services in town – ideas included moving the library to a town centre location and providing a modern, interactive and family-friendly museum.
· Retail, restaurants and cafes – providing a unique and independent retail offer and variety of high-quality cafes.
· Incentives for new businesses – establishing a pathway from ‘pop-up’ to permanent to allow Aldershot to ‘grow its own’.
· Transition period – drawing up a communications strategy to bring people along on the journey of transformation.
The Board discussed the Aldershot Civic Society’s Town Centre Vision and key themes and broadly agreed with the themes but also suggested some additional areas which could be included. The Board was advised that the Aldershot Civic Society information was just one piece of work looking at town centre uses and potential future uses which would be considered as part of the strategic development process. A piece of work had been commissioned to look specifically at future uses for the town centre and that work was expected to be completed by February/March 2020.
Hannah Shuttler, Ally Murdoch and Emma Lamb, Rushmoor officers participating in the Rushmoor Leadership Programme, presented the outcomes from the work they had carried out, looking at how the vibrancy of the town centre could be developed by attracting and growing independent business uses. The project had three stages: creating a knowledge baseline; evaluating potential opportunities; and, developing ideas to form recommendations. The Group identified a number of ideas and developed recommendations for eleven projects. Of those eleven projects, three were identified as contributing to the transition plan in the short-medium term and the remaining eight could be evaluated alongside the other initiatives as part of the long-term development of the Strategy.
The three projects identified as contributing to the transition plan were:
· Engagement with young people – including art student displays on hoardings, youth engagement project with Farnborough 6th Form College and construction opportunities linked to Aldershot College
· Repair Café, focussing on armed forces veterans
· West End Centre – continuing work already underway to improve the cultural offer
The eight projects identified for evaluation as part of the long-term Strategy development were:
· Escape Room Adventure Centre
· Climbing Centre
· Soft Play
· Indoor Trampolining
· Little Street
· Splash Area
· Visual Gaming Centre
· Relocation of Army Careers Office to the town centre
The Group had identified leisure provision opportunities and operators that were interested in locating in Aldershot.
The Board discussed the proposals and welcomed the work of the Leadership Group and in particular the engagement with young people. There was support for the three projects contributing to the transition plan and for further evaluation of the eight projects as the Aldershot Town Centre Strategy was developed.
The Board received a copy of the Aldershot Parking Study which had been carried out in June 2019. The study assessed the current off and on street parking situation, identified changes in use and demand, assessed future demand in the light of the regeneration projects and looked at good practice elsewhere. The conclusion of the study was that there would be sufficient car park capacity in the town centre to accommodate planned growth to 2024. It was proposed that a more strategic use of car parks and partnership working with the Wellington Centre and Westgate could improve the town centre offer for off-street parking. The study also proposed that a strategic review of on-street parking would identify some opportunities. Other opportunities identified included improved public transport and cycling facilities and the introduction of car sharing schemes.
The Board discussed the outcomes from the Aldershot Parking Study and were advised that a transport/parking stakeholders’ group would be established to address some of the issues highlighted in the study.
All of the evidence would be brought together and it was the intention that the Aldershot Town Centre Strategy would be available in draft form in March 2020.
Action to be taken
Report the draft Aldershot Town Centre Strategy to the 25th March Board meeting
17th March 2020