Local residents, communities and businesses are being asked for their comments and ideas in response to an outline Masterplan published by the Council, which aims to set the direction of investment into Kingswood town centre in the coming years.
A lot is going on in Kingswood already, with improvements to the Whitfield Tabernacle, the Council purchase of the Kings Chase shopping centre, and improvements to local roads and the Kingswood Park either complete, underway or with funding secured. But the Council and the community have ambitious plans for Kingswood’s future.
The long-term future of the high street should be directed by a strategy that is locally understood and supported by residents, so that as opportunities come forward to restore and revive the area, they can be made to meet the long-term needs of the community. That is why a new consultation on the updated Masterplan has now been launched and will run until 10 October this year.
Locals engaged positively and in large numbers to consultations last year about how to invest the Future High Street funding obtained by the South Gloucestershire Council from WECA and central Government. That engagement helped the Council secure £25m of public investment. Now, the council have refined ideas about how the heart of one of our most vibrant communities can respond to the changing ways in which we live, work, shop and travel.
The Masterplan is set out along six overarching themes:
1. Distinctly Kingswood – We want to recognise the positive characteristics of Kingswood town centre so that new development reinforces and strengthens a strong sense of the community.
2. A town centre for all – Kingswood town centre should be accessible and attractive to all members of the community. Improvements within the public realm will aim to bring people together, be safe and welcoming.
3. Diversity and vitality – Whilst continuing to support the retail elements of the town centre, we want to encourage a broader range of uses for land and buildings in Kingswood to include business, leisure, residential and community use, to drive a more active local economy.
4. Promoting quality – Change that will be of benefit over the longer term will be determined by the quality of both new development and other interventions. Existing buildings, spaces and facilities that are high in quality should be cherished and retained.
5. Sustainable living – We want to make decisions relating to both the built and natural environment that will have long-term benefits, and to reduce any adverse impacts on climate change.
6. Attracting investment – The Masterplan will promote ideas for change that are beneficial to Kingswood town centre, achievable and attractive to investors both in the public and private sectors.
South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Environment and Strategic Infrastructure, Councillor Steve Reade, said: “There is no doubt that Kingswood has a bright future. While it has long been a unique community, with a rich history and enviable local cultural assets, even prior to the pandemic, it faced challenges in common with town centres and high streets across the country. This Masterplan, and the input to it that we hope to get from the local community, will help set the area on course to build on its former glory and herald a new renaissance.
“There is already a lot of positive work underway in Kingswood. We recently purchased the Kings Chase shopping centre so that we and the community have more control over how we can place that hub at the heart of the Town Centre. The renovation of the Whitfield Tabernacle is an example of how we also want to preserve the wonderful historical buildings that are such an important part of that sense of Kingswood.
“We were very pleased to receive such enthusiastic and constructive input from the community when we consulted on the Future High Streets fund plans last year and I look forward to hearing from and working with residents, community groups and local businesses and stakeholders as we shape the vision for a Kingswood Town Centre for the future.”
The Council want to hear your views on the plans for the shopping centre, which include development of new leisure opportunities alongside new homes and community uses. The Council is presenting a preferred traffic re-routeing option to support the proposed pedestrianisation of Regent Street which was broadly supported in previous consultation. The Masterplan also identifies many other opportunity sites.
You can come and engage face-to-face with the project staff at the temporary ‘Kingswood Community Hub’ in the Kings Chase Shopping Centre which will be open for three days each week over the next three months. Look out for Community partners such as Connecting Kingswood, The Whitfield Tabernacle Trust, Circadian Trust and the Police also making appearances in and around the temporary hub as part of this community engagement. You can also of course view materials and respond to the questionnaire online at https://consultations.southglos.gov.uk/KingswoodMasterplan