We need you: help create a vision for Banbury town centre


Wayne Hemingway and Councillor Donna Ford

Its hoped thousands of people will help create a blueprint for the town’s future

What should Banbury town centre look like in years to come?   We’re being encouraged to have a say so our views are included in a blueprint for the future.

Banbury Vision 2050 is a Cherwell District Council project, working with Hemingway Design and NEW Masterplanning, to develop a community led vision for Banbury town centre.

The aim is to create a plan to ensure it meets the needs of residents, visitors, businesses and other organisations now and in the future. 

A district wide survey went live alongside a launch event at Lock 29 yesterday lunchtime, with youngsters from local schools taking part in a workshop to get their opinions.

Councillor Donna Ford is the Portfolio Holder for Regeneration at the council.   She said: “We understand that the town centres in the UK are changing and we want to understand from everyone how to adapt so that we can grow and keep Banbury a thriving community for years to come.

“I think the challenges Banbury is facing are the same as those all over the UK. The High Street is changing, people’s shopping habits are changing, the way people do things is completely changing. We need to adapt and think of the future and think of how we’re going to do things in 20-30 years time so that we can make sure we’re ready for it.

Wayne Hemingway from Hemingway Design has undertaken similar projects elsewhere.   He says its really important people of all ages have a say, especially younger people who often don’t get involved in these type of projects.

Wayne said: “We’ve got massive experience of going into towns and eking out people’s views and then working out with people what they want from the future of their town.

“I can’t express enough the importance of everybody having a say on this – all ages, not just the vocal minority that have a say.   Digital engagement has allowed you to get to a large number of people. We want to get in the thousands, not just a few hundred people.   When you do that, you get a real understanding of what people want.”

Wayne believes the choices different generations have made have shaped how Banbury currently looks.   We can’t wind back the clock, but we can choose what the future looks like.

He said: “We’re probably not going to get back in the UK the scale of a ‘Debenhams’ again – that whole thing is part of an evolution of town centres.   But those spaces are still there and what can they be taken with?   The public can tell us what they can be taken with – if it’s a healthcare facility, if they think education should be there, if they think it’s leisure, then tell us.   Nothing should be off the table because the future comes from what people want and what people need.”

A challenge for Banbury – which itself is a brand – comes in the form of other competing local brands.

Wayne said: “Oxford, Leamington Spa, Stratford upon Avon, Morton in Marsh – these are brilliant brands and Banbury is there and it’s got to compete with these.   If it doesn’t, then it will lose market share, it will lose young people, it will lose stores, it will lose employment.”

Those who don’t use Banbury town centre and who may visit some of these locations are encouraged to share their views as to why they are making this choice – something which is seen as vital feedback for the project team.

The survey will run until January.  Throughout the period people will be able to view an exhibition in Castle Quay’s community hub.   Here paper copies of the survey will also be available.  Further opportunities for people to have their say at workshops and events in town are being lined up.

Councillor Ford added: “Our goal is to continue to support and help revitalise Banbury town centre. The purchase and regeneration of Castle Quay shopping centre and our recent decision to relocate our council offices there demonstrates our commitment to creating a thriving town centre. As part of the visioning process, we want to see potential new ideas for Banbury with local people helping to shape the future of their town.”

Find out more at banbury2050.co.uk.

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Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam

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