Frequently asked questions
What is Romsey Future?
In November 2013, a number of organisations working in the town came together to create the Romsey Future partnership. Romsey Future has enabled people and organisations in and around Romsey to work better together, and has helped to deliver a number of projects for the benefit of the community.
The partnership published a vision document in early 2016 which can be viewed here, which sets out a long-term strategic vision for the town. This was based on a large scale public consultation exercise and provided a consensus for the town’s future ambitions.
These ambitions included aspirations for Romsey to thrive and grow, for new communities to emerge and for more people to visit the town centre. We want Romsey to retain its character as a relatively compact historic market town closely related to the countryside around it.
What is a masterplan?
A masterplan outlines a vision to guide the development of an area. When developed in partnership with the community a masterplan can provide a great way for local people to help shape the future of their town. At the same time it creates a flexible framework to obtain better facilities for the benefit of the community itself.
Where has the idea for a masterplan come from?
During the Romsey Future consultation many people said they would like to see whether sites such as the Bus Station and Crosfield Hall could be redeveloped in order to provide the town with improved facilities.
Other towns that have successfully improved facilities and protected their existing assets have involved the local community through the preparation of their masterplans. We are keen to do the same.
Who is leading the project?
Romsey Future is taking the lead on the project in partnership with Nexus Planning and Perkins + Will Architects who have also drawn on input from specialist consultants Alan Baxter Associates, Vectos and Lambert Smith Hampton. Romsey Future is supported by key partners including Romsey Town Council, Romsey and District Society and Test Valley Borough Council.
What exactly is the area under consideration?
The bus station and Crosfield Hall sites were identified during the public consultation for the Romsey Future vision document and these sites and their uses are key considerations as part of the south of Romsey town centre project. We have also been in close contact with the surrounding landowners throughout the process to determine how they may be involved.
The project is consistent with the Local Plan’s principles relating to new regeneration opportunities. Additionally, the masterplan takes into account existing constraints and opportunities within Romsey town centre, including the conservation area that protects the historic fabric of the town. This project aims to capitalise on the opportunities that are already present within this part of Romsey such as the stream.
Has any project work already taken place?
The first round of consultation took place during the summer of 2018 with a report on the findings being released. Since then a number of evidence gathering exercises have taken place along with more detailed discussions with interest groups including youth and disability groups. The options were also put through a high-level assessment on its viability and ability to be delivered.
Perhaps most importantly, the future of south of Romsey's town centre was the focus of the Citizens' Assembly in November 2019. The process has a representative sample of 50 participants from Romsey spend two weekends listening to experts and participating in a deliberative process, and making recommendations into the masterplanning process.
What is being proposed?
The first round of consultation with stakeholders and the wider community produced an abundance of ideas surrounding the potential of the masterplan area. It was the job for masterplanners to go through every suggestion to determine what could realistically be achieved for the area. An 'ideas register' has been kept, logging the public’s suggestions and the rationale used behind whether to include them in the draft options.
The masterplan has taken into account the availability of land, public spaces, accessibility, transport and car parking. Additional factors covered by the masterplan include: place-making, public and private investment, sustainability, health and well-being, the natural environment, climate resilience and historic assets. The masterplan has explored the possibility for new retail, residential, commercial, cultural, visitor, community and leisure facilities. To view the progress of the project to date, follow the link here.
The draft masterplan consists of a set of short (two years), medium (five years) and long term (ten years) options.
How do we protect Romsey's character as a historic market town?
The historic nature of the town centre coupled with the attractive environment surrounding Romsey, is what sets the town apart from other areas. With the abbey at the heart of the town, an award winning memorial park and the River Test, Romsey’s natural and built environment is one of its most important assets.
Protecting and enhancing those assets is one of the key principles that emerged from the early masterplan consultation and at the Citizen’s Assembly. It is therefore at the core of the project.
Why build new shops when there are already empty units?
While there is new commercial space included within the draft options retail is not the only use to be considered. It is important that the masterplan and any buildings proposed are flexible and resilient to market changes
Romsey is already a successful market town with far fewer empty shops than the national average.
However, as traditional retailing changes and more people shop online, town centres are increasingly used for alternative uses, such as meeting friends for coffee, eating out, entertainment and for accessing goods and services that cannot be purchased online, such as hair dressers, beauty salons, small hardware purchases, key cutting and so on. Creating a larger dwell time and an evening economy is also important.
Will there be new housing built on-site?
Town centre living is quickly becoming a popular option for many households. A mixed-use development involving an element of residential provision has been suggested here as part of the medium term option. It is an important move to bring people into and increase the footfall in towns.
Like all local authorities, Test Valley has targets to meet its housing requirement and needs to make the best use of brownfield land. As the bus station and other sites are located in close proximity to the services provided in the centre of the town and transport links, it presents both a sustainable and attractive option to future residents.
Will this project provide new community facilities for Romsey?
The profile of Romsey residents is wide ranging and so is the need for future community facilities. Through the evidence gathered during the first stage of public consultation and ongoing engagement with users of the existing community facilities in Romsey, the masterplan team is aware that there is a need for flexible and adaptable community spaces.
These spaces would be provided in a combination of locations, including in a new ‘community hub’ within the proposed bus station development, and in other existing facilities in the town that are not currently being utilised to their full potential. There may be other opportunities to provide additional community space in other locations, such as at the Romsey Rapids.
What will happen to Crosfield Hall?
The medium-term masterplan option includes the potential for the re-provision of the Crosfield Hall facilities in a combination of locations, but would therefore require the hall today, to be removed.
A priority for the masterplan is to ensure all community spaces are flexible and accessible. This was another key theme that emerged from the first stage of the consultation in late 2018.
The medium-term proposals include:
A new ‘community hub’ within the proposed bus station development
In existing facilities in the town that are not currently being utilised to their full potential, including the Town Hall and the British Legion
Test Valley is also exploring options to provide a larger ‘hall’ space at the Romsey Rapids
Will the number of car parking spaces be decreased?
Romsey Future recognises the importance of car parking in providing access to what Romsey town centre already has to offer. The masterplanners have also explored how to encourage journeys using alternative modes of transport to decrease car use especially for short journeys within Romsey. A key component of the masterplan is improving the experience for pedestrians and cyclists.
The draft masterplan have been designed to ensure there is no net loss in car parking, albeit consolidation is proposed to ensure more efficient use of space. One of the key recommendations of the Citizens' Assembly was that Romsey become more sustainable and therefore the masterplan proposals have tried to ensure that other methods of transport, including walking, cycling and public transport, are prioritised.
In addition to car parking within the masterplan area, car parking provision at the Rapids is to be retained, which allows for 4 hours of free parking and is only a short walk from the centre of town. Enhancements to the pedestrian route between the Rapids and the town centre are proposed as part of the masterplan options.
The masterplan will also make suggestions of how car parking areas might be gradually re-purposed in the future if a decision was made to do this in line with major changes in the way people travel.
When will this project take place and how will it be funded?
For the time being a draft masterplan is being prepared that shows the potential development opportunities south of Romsey's town centre area. The purpose of the document is to highlight the potential and encourage private investment into the town to deliver needed improvement. In the future the masterplan may inform a Supplementary Planning Document which would act as a framework for developers to work within.
In the future any proposals for development within the masterplan area would need to go through the same application process as any other development and would therefore be open to scrutiny.
The draft masterplan has been prepared in three stages. The first stage revolves around improvements to the public realm which may be funded through developer contributions gathered from Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy payments from planning applications elsewhere as well as other funding sources including the Local Enterprise Partnership. It is expected that these improvement works would also make the area even more attractive to private investment and would be the catalyst that leads to the medium and long term stages coming forward.
Funding for the medium and long term masterplan options is likely to be through private sector investment. These options could also result in other funds such as developer contributions which could be used in the town.
What is section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy?
Section 106 agreements, which are also known as planning obligations, are legal agreements made between local authorities and developers. S106 agreements are designed to address issues that new developments can place on local infrastructure.
The Community Infrastructure Levy is a charge that local authorities can set on new development in order to raise funds to help fund the infrastructure, facilities and services needed to support new homes and businesses.