South of Town Centre - 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 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 framework to obtain better facilities for the benefit of the community itself.
Where has the idea for a masterplan for South of Romsey Town Centre 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, the have all involved the local community in the development of their masterplans which is why we are keen to do the same.
Who is leading the project?
Romsey Future is taking the lead on the South of Romsey Town Centre project in partnership with Nexus Planning and Perkins + Will Architects. It is supported by key partners including the Romsey Town Council, Romsey and District Society and Test Valley Borough Council.
Has any project work already taken place?
Romsey Future will be drawing on existing research such as car parking studies, retail studies and the Local Plan and its various evidence bases. There will be an extensive public consultation undertaken this summer by our partners Nexus Planning which will build on the original Romsey Future consultation. This will continue the spirit of Romsey Future as being an inclusive, community led initiative.
What exactly is the area under consideration?
The Bus Station and Crosfield Hall site were identified during the public consultation for the Romsey Future vision document. We will take these sites and their uses into consideration as part of the south of Romsey town centre project, but we will also be in close contact with the surrounding landowners throughout the process to determine how they can get involved. The site for this project reflects the Local Plan in its recommendation for where new regeneration opportunities could be. Additionally, we will be taking into account existing constraints within Romsey town centre, including the Conservation Area that protects the historic fabric of the town. This project aims to highlight the opportunities that are already present within this part of Romsey.
What is being proposed and how do we protect Romsey’s character as a historic market town?
With help from Nexus Planning and Perkins & Will Architects, the purpose of this new consultation is to engage with stakeholders and the wider community to establish what can realistically be achieved for the area. These will then be used to create a masterplan to guide the redevelopment of land south of Romsey town centre. The masterplan will take account of the availability of land, public spaces, accessibility, transport and car parking. Additional factors covered by the masterplan may include: public and private investment; the natural environment and historic assets. The masterplan will explore the possibility for new retail, residential, cultural, visitor, community and leisure facilities.
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 will be at the core of the project. In order to enhance the town the project will deliver on what the community itself has voiced.
What is the point in building new shops when there are already empty units in the centre of the town?
Romsey is already a successful market town with far fewer empty shops than the national average. The most recent survey, from early 2018, showed that just under 5 percent of units were empty versus a national average for towns of our size of more than 10 percent. However, as more people shop online town centres are increasingly used for leisure, such as meeting friends for coffee, entertainment and for accessing goods and services you would not or cannot purchase online, such as hair dressers, beauty salons, small hardware purchases, key cutting and so on.
Retail will not be the only use to be considered; therefore we will be taking into account the changing market and economics in the short and long term. The question of whether more shops are required in Romsey is open to discussion and we welcome everybody’s views as part of the consultation process.
Will there be new housing built on site?
The closer people are to the services on offer the more vibrant a town centre is going to be. A mixed-use development involving an element of residential provision could be an option that will be taken into consideration. Like all local authorities, Test Valley has targets to meet its housing requirement and needs to make the best use of brownfield land. This will be an exercise to determine what the people of Romsey would like to see in order to complement the existing town centre offering.
Will this project provide new community facilities for Romsey?
The profile of Romsey residents is wide ranging and so are the needs for future facilities. We are looking to assess what can be realistically achieved through this process, considering the opinions, comments and suggestions gathered through the public consultation during the summer. We welcome everybody’s views as part of this process.
Does this mean the Crosfield Hall will be demolished?
There are no current plans to demolish the Crosfield Hall. However, one of the main aims of this project will be to assess whether this is the most suitable facility to serve the town from this site. Any potential regeneration in the future be it a redevelopment, extension or any other upgrades to the existing structure. How we meet our future need is all open to discussion and we welcome everybody’s views as part of the consultation process.
Will the number of car parking spaces be decreased?
Romsey Future recognises the importance of car parking in providing access to what Romsey already has to offer. Therefore, all views on the subject will be welcome at public consultation.
A recent car parking study carried out on behalf of the Council has shown that Romsey currently has spare parking capacity in all short, medium and long stay car parks during the peak parking periods. In 10 years short and medium stay car parks are anticipated to exceed operational capacity which is set at 90 percent occupancy. In the long term (15-years), all categories of car parks are anticipated to be operating over their operational capacity. The car parking study showed that additional short and medium stay parking in Romsey Town Centre may be required in the medium to long term.
All of the car parks in Romsey are currently scored as ‘high quality’ except for Crosfield Hall which is scored as ‘medium quality’.
How does this project fit in with other projects in the town?
This project is one of many ongoing within the wider Romsey area. It complements the vision of Romsey as a town with potential for growth. It links into the enhancement schemes already completed along Church Street and Bell Street and proposed for the Market Place. Equally, the population of Romsey is increasing and developments at Ganger Farm and Whitenap will mean a growing community which will require a town centre that will help to meet its future needs.
Where can I find out more about the project? How are residents going to be kept up-to-date about progress?
A dedicated webpage for the south of Romsey town centre project will be available soon via the Romsey Future website and there will also be a link to it from the Test Valley Borough Council website. Until then more information on the project can be found here.
Our project partner Nexus Planning has already been thinking about how best to keep everybody informed. They will be attending a number of local events including the Romsey Show, organising ‘walk and talk’ opportunities, setting up a Facebook page and an online survey to establish key issues and opportunities.