We are inviting people to have their say on ambitious and exciting plans for the future of Kingswood High Street as part of our public engagement.
Our month-long engagement launches today (7 May) and will be open until midnight on 7 June.
The proposals include revitalising Kingswood High Street and delivering a new public realm that respects and enhances Kingswood’s rich heritage and creates a destination where people want to live, work and enjoy a variety of leisure and retail activities while appreciating the heritage and culture on offer.
The opportunity to fund the project comes from the Future High Streets Fund which was announced by Government in October 2018. Successful High Streets could secure between £5m – £25m and we were asked to submit our final proposals for Kingswood by 30 June 2020.
This follows the ‘Love our High Streets’ initiative (funded by the West of England Combined Authority) and the successful submission of a detailed Expression of Interest supported by local stakeholders and business groups.
Plans are centred around Regent Street and the adjacent Whitfield Tabernacle Conservation Area where £682,000 of funding was awarded by the West of England Combined Authority in December 2019 to stabilise the building and open it to members of the public.
We are now seeking to secure the additional funding needed to restore and transform the Tabernacle into a Performance Arts Centre and Cultural Cinema, while the neighbouring Masters Church is converted into 19 apartments and the cemetery is transferred to the Council to create a new public open space.
Critically, the engagement provides the public, businesses, and other local groups with an opportunity to share their views on ambitious plans to pedestrianise part of Regent Street between Park Road and Moravian Road.
South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Transport and Strategic Environment, Cllr Steve Reade said: “This is an exciting opportunity to rejuvenate Kingswood and breathe new life into the High Street and surrounding areas and I encourage everyone to have their say during our public engagement.
“We see our high streets and our local communities as critical infrastructure in the COVID-19 recovery phase and having transferred significant resource into meeting the challenge of that emergency, we are now keen to be promoting and investing in the recovery. The Future High Streets Fund presents a timely opportunity for this and we are keen to hear from residents, business and other organisations.
“The future vision for Kingswood is ambitious and sets out to re-model the area as a cultural hub with an array of retail, residential, business and leisure options which would boost the local economy and have a significant impact on not just the local community, but the whole of South Gloucestershire for generations to come.”
Chris Skidmore, Member of Parliament for Kingswood, said: “It’s great to see continuing momentum to give our area the high street and town centre it deserves and follows on from the recent meeting I arranged with the government’s High Streets Minister Simon Clarke to put forward Kingswood’s case. I would urge residents to share their views as this will strengthen the final funding bid that goes into government, which, if successful, will unlock so many opportunities for local residents and business.”
Martin Farmer, Treasurer of the Whitfield Tabernacle Trust said: “The engagement is a great opportunity for residents to have their say about the future of Kingswood town centre. We’re about to see the start of an exciting period for Kingswood and we hope that as many people as possible will take part in the survey.”
Paul Cunningham, Chairman of the Connecting Kingswood Community Group added: “These are exciting times for Kingswood and I really feel that the innovative ideas in this engagement would make a huge difference for our community. I really hope that lots of people will take part in the engagement survey over the next month.”
The area before Kings Chase Shopping Centre would benefit from improved public transport links and enhancements to the public area and local infrastructure.
We want to make the town centre an attractive environment for shopping, business and a place where families can go for an enjoyable day out. We also want Kingswood to embrace its non-conformist heritage and original 19th century architecture which still stands on Regent Street.
Investment in new public seating, lighting and pedestrianisation around these buildings will enable the creation of a new, open public space with opportunities for markets, performance arts and cultural events such as the Whitsunday Parade, which historically brought thousands of people to Kingswood’s high street every year. We are also looking to promote cycling, walking and access to Kingswood’s nearby green spaces.
We recognise that residents, businesses and other organisations are currently dealing with the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and as such, there will be further engagement on preferred options and the broader emerging Masterplan for Kingswood at an appropriate time.
Please have your say by visiting www.southglos.gov.uk/FutureKingswood and complete the online survey. Alternatively, you can request a postal survey by calling our Consultation Team on 01454 868154.