Big plans to regenerate Caldicot town centre


Caldicot

PLANS to regenerate Caldicot town centre have been revealed, with goals to create a ‘shopping and business experience’ for the town. (Article by Owain Banfield in Planning – Chepstow Beacon Paper)

Caldicot Town Team, alongside Roberts Limbrick Architects, released a report on 22nd January detailing the proposed regeneration of Caldicot town centre. The primary goals of the ideas in the report are to further unify the town centre, linking the new Asda development with shops in the centre, thereby creating a shopping and business experience that covers the whole of the town centre.

The document, which presents a range of ideas for the redevelopment of Caldicot town centre, was presented by Caldicot Town Team during public consultation on 9th and 12th January 2016.

The plans were created by Roberts Limbrick Architects, architectural consultants based in Gloucester, who are preparing a further visioning report and development plan (VRDP) for Caldicot town centre, alongside Monmouthshire County Council and Caldicot Town Team.

The report released last month summarises the information gathered so far and shows some initial ideas for its future. The finalised plan is due in early March.

Current ideas are focused on the pedestrianised area and the surrounding buildings, and town centre links with Asda. Issues were highlighted within the existing centre layout, such as ‘unattractive buildings’, ‘illogical car-park designs’, ‘unsafe routes for pedestrians between Asda and the centre’, and ‘unclear pedestrian gateways’.

It was noted in the report that the town centre and Asda superstore are seen as two separate attractions, which don’t benefit from each other. The desired outcome of the plan is to make Caldicot town centre an integrated system where Asda and the main retail shops compliment each other.

The first steps to achieve this are said to have already been made, with the existing Making Better Connections scheme aiming to create an improved pedestrian route between the superstore and Newport Road.

The overall plan created by Roberts Limbrick Architects is broken down into seven smaller projects. These cover the building of new houses, retail units being enlarged, and the remodelling of the town centre with general improvements such as upgraded paving, signage, lighting and street furniture.

A lack of space for shops in the town centre was highlighted, with existing retail units being predominantly small, less than 1,000 square foot. Plans are to merge existing units and extend them into Newport Road, creating larger units for a greater variety of shops. The narrowing of the road will also focus markets on either end of the pedestrian area, and create the opportunity to relocate and combine the library and One Stop Shop into a purposely fitted hub in a central, strategic location in town.

Further plans involve the building of a new two-storey residential building at Woodstock Parade, and the building of a block of 26 apartments at Jubilee Way. Jubilee Council Car Park would also be reorganised and rationalised to retain the existing 60 spaces, and provide 27 additional spaces for residential use.

Chris Gentle, Senior Associate at Roberts Limbrick, said: “It’s still quite early in the development process. We’ve been commissioned to produce an overall plan, and to take the project forward. The timescale for the finished plan is the end of February or beginning of March.

“The public consultation went well, as we generally had positive responses to the idea of the changes. Of course you can’t please everyone so there was some negative feedback, but we plan to change the planning report to reflect these issues.

“After that, the next step is funding. The overall design is split into smaller projects, seven at the moment, which fit together like a jigsaw. Funding will come from various sources, from public or private sectors, and some will be self funding.

“Application will no doubt be made to Welsh Assembly funding schemes, but of course you need a well made plan of action first. It’s likely to be a 10 to 15 year plan, but Monmouthshire County Council and Caldicot Town Team are doing well to be proactive, and it’s positive that the realisation has come that changes are needed”.

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