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New Vision for Westbury could include arts centre, public park and town centre

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EXCITING and ambitious plans to transform Westbury are being discussed by Westbury Town Council this week.

Amongst the ideas under discussion are a new arts centre, larger pavements in the high street to allow outdoor seating and the creation of a new public park, community orchard and market garden in the grounds of Leighton House.

The ideas were due to be discussed at a special Vision For Westbury council meeting on Tuesday just as White Horse News went to press.

The council hopes the plans – drawn up by London-based architecture urban planning experts Allies and Morrison – could regenerate the town and the surrounding area.

The council says that its ‘Westbury Town Centre Vision’ will “help define Westbury’s distinct role, ensuring a fantastic place to live and work for current and future residents, workers and visitors. 

“A key role of the vision is to identify how the town can be positively transformed, projects that will help achieve this, and funding opportunities for collaborative working to deliver these.”

The ideas proposed include:

• A new arts centre which, says the report, “could provide a seated capacity of 200 – 250 people for performances such as comedy or dance and also be used with seating retracted for gigs and events would provide an ideal anchor for the town, and particularly the evening economy.”

• Re-thinking the High Street, removing some of the car parking to create much larger pavements, outdoor seating areas and introducing planting and lighting.  

• Revitalising the Market Square with the Lopes as a key anchor, particularly for the evening economy;

• Improving Angel Mill which “has the potential to be an attractive and busy location for co-working space” and enhancing Edward Street.

• Opening up the Leighton House grounds to the public. Amongst the suggestions are creating a public parkland, a restaurant in the house, a community orchard and a market garden.

“Leighton House grounds present a wonderful opportunity to establish fruit and vegetable growing space and gardens for visitors to enjoy,” says the report. “This could be a community orchard or market garden, with courses for growing vegetables and/or a walled garden.

“Opening up the grounds of the house would also provide an opportunity to use the spaces for local festivals and events such as open-air concerts by the lake.  

• Removal of the rotunda raised planters at the eastern end of the High Street and simple re-landscaping to create an attractive public space linking to the war memorial, the library and the rest of the town centre. 

• Building on Westbury’s  passion for dance and performance which could become ‘an integral part of Westbury’s identity’.

• A new railway crossing which overcomes the separation of the town centre from the station and to surrounding green space.

• Introducing a new green route through Westbury to help to increase biodiversity, create healthy streets and connect the town to the surrounding nature. Biodiversity can be improved from small scale rewilding projects to habitat protection and conservation areas. 

• Better pedestrian and cycling routes within Westbury and on to nearby villages and market towns.

“Westbury can become a resilient, self sufficient town, able to thrive in the new economic climate,” says the report.

“Establishing an arts and event space in the town centre will help to support the evening economy for Westbury and provide it with a unique attraction. Presenting an 18-hour economy helps to drive the town centre, creating more dynamic, diversified employment opportunities and creating a more vibrant and desirable place to live and visit.”

For more information, visit the Westbury town council website.

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