From bustling medieval market town, to the 20th Century's 'Leather capital of the world', Walsall has a proud history. It was once known as the town of 100 trades, with famed craftsmanship and diverse industries driving its economic prosperity. But how to ensure Walsall remains a thriving centre long into the future? Keeping the centuries-old market at its heart, we are working with Walsall Council to build on the industrious heritage of this thriving West Midlands community to create a masterplan for the 'healthiest' town centre in the country. Our vision will help to mark a defining new era for this historic hub.
The transformation of Walsall is already well underway. With increased connectivity thanks to new direct trains to London and a commitment to re-open the link to Wolverhampton, plus over £425m of investment delivering 85,00sqm of shopping, leisure, offices, health and education facilities, as well as 2,500 new jobs and 300+ new homes, it is clear that Walsall is thriving.
As part of this continuing transformation, Arcadis was appointed by Walsall Council to develop a bold vision for the future of its Town Centre: a comprehensive regeneration masterplan, exploring development opportunities centred on its historic high street and role as a regional market town.
Our vision, developed together with the Council and key stakeholders, articulates a clear ambition: for Walsall to be the healthiest town centre in the country, and the town of choice for visitors from across the borough and beyond. We wanted to create a re-imagined, economically successful high street, which blends a strong heritage and character with aspirational, iconic buildings and public spaces.
The masterplan area covers approximately 116 hectares of the town centre and has the potential to provide more than 900 new homes, along with 5km of green links and a new Creative Quarter. There are significant opportunities to create a mix of traditional and alternative uses, which complement the existing cultural, architectural and environmental assets, including the renowned arboretum.
Our role centred on providing project and development management, planning, regeneration masterplanning and urban design, landscape and public realm design, heritage, flood risk, environment, engineering and infrastructure consultancy to develop an investible delivery plan in support of the masterplan.
We also provided potential funding advice and guidance to Walsall Council, with a strategy prioritising projects that would provide the greatest benefit and outlining short- and long-term goals dependent on the available funding.
The masterplan will inform decision-making across Walsall and sets out the next steps for realising the Town Centre's potential. In developing the plans we were careful to align with existing policies, including the Area Action Plan, and examined a number of case study areas within the wider town centre to make sure we understood what would work best for the local community. These areas were all developed in greater detail to enhance the evidence base which supported the masterplan framework, identifying ten key interventions for the town centre as a whole.
A town centre for the future
We’re proud to be working with Walsall to rejuvenate their historic town centre. Using the evidence we developed to support the masterplan, Walsall have been successful in progressing to the next stage of the government’s Future High Streets Fund process. This is part of a £3.6 billion investment in town centres and high streets up and down the country, in which the UK government is seeking to transform, renew and reshape these areas as part of the national levelling up agenda. Working together on the business case for Walsall will enable the plans to be implemented quickly and effectively.
The result? A newly-transformed place in which to live, work and enjoy. A town committed to improving the quality of life for the whole community of Walsall, well into the future.