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Library revamp and pedestrianisation of High Street are council’s priorities

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WESTBURY Town Council has selected its first two priorities – redeveloping the library into an arts and community hub and pedestrianising the high street – as part of the Vision for Westbury (VFW) initiative.

Councillors were discussing the plans to rejuvenate Westbury, which have been drawn up by London-based architecture urban planning experts, Allies and Morrison, at a meeting held last month and which were outlined in the last issue of White Horse News.

Westbury Town Council clerk, Deborah Urch, said that Wiltshire Council is positive about the prospects listed in the VFW document.

She explained, “I attended a meeting with the chief executive and leader of the [Wiltshire] Council and we discussed some of the ideas emerging from the Vision document. They asked to see the document and were very excited – they were also very supportive of the idea that the council would vest their interests in the library. I then had another conversation with the head of economic regeneration at Wiltshire Council, Rory Bowen, to understand how much help they would be willing to give us. It was a really positive meeting.” 

Funding for projects in the document could be applied for as part of the government’s “Levelling Up’ scheme that looks to provide local authorities with large funding opportunities to facilitate large-scale regeneration. 

And Westbury Town Council is hopeful that it can secure funding for transforming the town centre including redeveloping the library into an arts and community hub and pedestrianising the high street.

Up to £20million could be available but actual funding is likely to be smaller than this, as the whole fund is competitive with other local authorities. 

Deborah Urch said funding would not cover all of the projects listed in the Vision For Westbury document so councillors prioritised the redevelopment of the library into an arts and community hub and pedestrianising the high street.

An economic case must now be put together outlining the benefits of a bid and how it represents value for money. Wiltshire Council has offered support to the town council to prepare plans and develop a strategic case, but an economic evaluation, which could cost up to £15,000, must be carried out by external consultants. 

Chair of VFW, Jane Russ said at the meeting, “I know in the past people have been rather anxious about the concept of consultancy, but as we discovered in the preparation for the VFW, in fact the consultants were brilliant.” 

The committee agreed to ask the clerk to obtain quotes about how much the economic evaluation would cost. 

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