BOLD PROPOSALS have been announced for the future of Droitwich Spa as part of a new investment prospectus drawn up by Wychavon District Council.
The authority has been working with consultants CBRE to put together a plan for the town centre and overcome the challenges facing it.
Droitwich Spa, along with Evesham and Pershore, are facing a ‘perfect storm’ of issues, including the aftershock of the Covid-19 pandemic, more working from home and online shopping.
The prospectus has been complied in conjunction with partners and examined everything from the way people moved around the town centre to improvements to the physical appearance of the place.
‘Game changer’ sites have been identified which have the potential to bring about change. Because not all these are owned by Wychavon, discussions and partnerships with landowners and the private sector will be crucial.
Droitwich Spa will be promoted as a spa and leisure destination, building on the lido, brine baths and bespoke events such as Salt Fest.
New leisure opportunities based on health and well-being will be created to diversify the offer beyond retail.
The development of high-quality town centre living offers an opportunity for regeneration.
The Union Lane (Baxenden) site, Netherwich Basin and Fire Station sites should be developed into a new ‘urban village’ offering canalside town centre accommodation.
As well as housing, the plan would be to include cafes, shops and a permanent home for the Pamela May Canal Boat and Museum.
The St Andrew’s Centre provides an opportunity for more new independent shops and eateries, as well as extended opening hours beyond 9am to 5pm.
Droitwich High Street is seen as having huge potential for transformation – new seating and closing the space so it can host events and markets and turning vacant premises into pop-up shops would broaden the appeal of the town to families, young professionals, day-trippers and tourists and increase footfall.
Uniqueness needs to be capitalised on, including making more of Droitwich Lido when marketing the town and exploring options for a permanent on-site restaurant. Plans by the Friends of Droitwich Lido to turn it into a
National Lido Centre or National Open Swimming Centre would help put it on the map.
The Brine Baths being brought back would enhance Droitwich Spa as a place to visit for ‘wellbeing’ alongside the Lido and award-winning parks.
The document concluded Droitwich Spa has much to offer tourists around the town and there is a need to develop key attractions in the town centre and make more of existing ones, such as the museum, Norbury Theatre, heritage trails and an expanded events programme – all would position the town as a health and leisure destination.
Coun Bradley Thomas, Leader of Wychavon District Council, said: “Our town centres have been under pressure for some time and the prospectuses represent a positive vision for the future of each of them.
“This isn’t about what Wychavon wants to see happen but rather a shared ambition based on what we have been told by various stakeholders.
“The prospectuses offer interpretations of what’s possible but that doesn’t mean they are set in stone.
“Wychavon isn’t in charge of all of the Game Changer sites, so to make this vision a reality there needs to be a real drive from the public and private sector, and our communities, to make this happen.
“The prospectuses will be a powerful tool to attract investment from Government and the private sector into our towns.
“We can’t go back to how we did things before the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The future for our town centres is limited if we do that.
“But by thinking differently about our places, reimagining what’s possible, being bold and working together they have a bright future.
“Today is the start of that journey.”
Click here for more on the proposals in each prospectus and to watch Wychavon’s short explainer videos.
- WHAT do you think? What would you like to see in Droitwich Town Centre? When you meet people outside of Droitwich, what do you tell them about the town? Email your views to email@example.com