English seaside city gets serious about revitalizing and reconnecting its downtown

The center of Weston-super-Mare in County Somerset, England is revitalizing at an incredible rate, with new shops and restaurants cropping up left, right and center.

The Dolphin Square leisure center is the figurehead of this stunning transformation, with a new Cineworld, an enormous gym and several restaurants making up the venue.

This is just the beginning, however, as a new £4.45 million revitalizaqion program has now been approved to upgrade and reconnect the center of town.

Weston Super Mare, Somerset, England.
Photo credit: Chris Downer via Wikipedia

The initiative includes a variety of pedestrian, cycle, public realm, highway and bus interchange improvements to make the town less car-centric. This is because, as North Somerset Council’s deputy leader Cllr Elfan Ap Rees says “Weston has changed significantly since the railway station and Alexandra Parade were built when the population was much smaller and we had none of the traffic we have these days.

They also understand the vital importance of having more people actually living in the downtown, and that requires more housing stock. To this end, the local government is inviting real estate investors and residential redevelopers with the following pitch:

Weston-super-Mare town centre is undergoing an exciting period of change and renewal, set in motion by the vision outlined in the Prospectus for Change. A major programme of improvements is well under way in the town to further develop the town centre as a great place to live, learn and spend leisure time. Building good quality new housing in the town centre will attract people to come and live in the town, boosting the demand for shops and services, creating new jobs. Raising quality, aspiration and opportunity, with an improved cultural offer are also a key area of focus throughout the programme.

Work is under way to redesign and redevelop the area around Weston train station, which offers the opportunity to create a better ‘gateway’ to the town, whether arriving by train or by road, and to free up land for the development of new good quality housing.

Homes England (HE) have already invested in this area, having bought several key sites close to the train station.

As well as providing new housing, and potentially shops and offices, the redevelopment of the Station gateway will make a significant difference to first impressions of the town and link the arrival space to the heart of the town centre.

Weston Town Hall. Photo credit: Anonymous.

City leaders also hope to foster a downtown culture more focused on arts and creativity. They say “A new creative and digital co-working hub has opened as part of the Weston-super-Mare town centre regeneration programme. The introduction of a creative hub in the town centre will provide space for small creative businesses to grow and develop.

They continue: “We were awarded a £460,000 grant in 2016 from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership to support the purchase and development of the creative hub. Since then, the building has been purchased and refurbishment work is now complete. The Stable, which will be housed in the former Badger Centre in Wadham Street above the Heritage Café, will offer a range of facilities, services and support to enable local entrepreneurs in the digital, technological and creative sectors.

Co-working space is let on a daily and monthly basis to freelancers, micro and start-up businesses on flexible and low-risk terms. Networking events and support are also available to members of The Stable, to cultivate their business success. As well as the economic benefits of supporting start-up businesses, The Stable will help to reposition Weston as a well-connected, quality location, identified as a good place to live and work, with a distinct personality based around creative arts and culture,” they explain.

The city concludes: “The Stable will bring a new cultural dimension to the town centre, nurturing the creative talent already in the town and attracting new residents and businesses to relocate. This supports the council’s bold ambition for Weston-super-Mare which focuses on increasing the number of people living in good quality housing, boosting the demand for shops and services, as well as expanding the town’s learning and leisure opportunities to create a more prosperous and vibrant town centre.”

Featured photo of Weston-super-Mare beach by NotFromUtrecht via Wikipedia.

See Somerset Live article by James Wood.

See official city website.

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