Wyre Forest regeneration
Wyre Forest District Council has a very strong track record of planning strategically for the development of Kidderminster town centre. In 2009, the Council adopted the ReWyre initiative which was detailed in an investment prospectus, a 30 year vision to promote and develop the exciting prospects of the district and making it an attractive place to live, work, visit and invest. ReWyre came about after significant public consultation and input from partners and stakeholders in the town. It identifies an ambitious and clear vision for the future of Kidderminster focusing on four strategically linked action areas - Kidderminster Town Centre, Comberton Hill Gateway, Churchfields and Silverwoods on the A451 linking the town with nearby Stourport-on-Severn.
The Prospectus, delivered through teamwork between public sector partners and a development-led approach of local authority planners, has resulted in a remarkable level of public and private-sector investment in Wyre Forest's priority commercial areas. The aim of the Initiative is to promote and develop the exciting prospects of the district and make it an attractive place to live, work, visit and invest. The ReWyre Renewed 2014 report is available to download as a PDF, if you require the ReWyre Renewed 2014 report in an additional format please contact Jane Doyle by email.
Many of these projects have already been delivered or are well into the development process.
Comment from Neil Morris, ReWyre Chairman
"Since its inception in 2009 the ReWyre Initiative has created and influenced many changes in the Wyre Forest region. Several areas have seen significant development, not least the former British Sugar site in Kidderminster, bringing more housing, better leisure facilities and employment to the town. Our focus remains on regeneration and improvement, underpinned by a strong business economy, thus ensuring that Wyre Forest is an attractive place to live and work.
Our board, comprising members of the private and public sector, is ensuring that schools engage with local businesses, showing the children that great career opportunities are available on their doorstep in a variety of industries and professions. We are encouraging young entrepreneurial talent to set up and thrive in the region, whilst supporting our local colleges who champion apprenticeships as a great introduction to the workplace and a route to full time employment.
As it enters its second decade ReWyre will continue to work with WFDC, the County Council and Local Enterprise Partnerships to ensure that Wyre Forest gets the very best opportunities and funding to drive the region forward."
A vision for Kidderminster
Continuous development and investment over the last decade was undoubtedly a determining factor in the successful award under the Future High Streets Fund to enable the further transformation of the town.
The Council has developed its Kidderminster 2040 Town Centre Vision through Hemingway Design which captures the wider town and embraces the Future High Streets Fund initiatives. In May 2021 Wyre Forest District Council’s Cabinet agreed this vision and reinforced the will to transform Kidderminster by 2040.
Adopted by Wyre Forest District Council in May 2021, the Vision was drawn up following a consultation with residents and businesses in November 2020. It was produced by HemingwayDesign on behalf the Council. It highlights the desire for more independent and local shops, more green spaces and access to the river and canal, more local and independent cafes and restaurants, better open public space to hold events and festivals, more cultural space for arts, music, film and theatre, and to see more people living in the town.
Due to the strong visual components of the pdf document it may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. A text only version is available below.
Kidderminster Town Centre Vision text only
By 2040 Kidderminster will be known as a purposeful, forward-thinking town centre. A sustainable place that celebrates its heritage and natural environment. An independent place that attracts entrepreneurs and creative thinking. A social place enlivened by its town centre living, public spaces, café culture and evening economy. An inclusive place that cares about the health, welfare and education of current and future generations. A friendly place that understands how to relax and enjoy life.
Town centres are changing. We have known this for some time, but the pace of change has accelerated and the need to respond is increasingly urgent.
Kidderminster’s response to the challenges it faces needs to be bold. But it also needs to be planned and coordinated. There are significant opportunities for change, and substantial funding has been secured to help deliver this change. It is essential therefore that Kidderminster makes the most of this ‘once in a generation’ opportunity.
The importance of developing this vision has increased in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic and town centres need to respond positively to the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic. Kidderminster must think carefully about its response and build on the particular characteristics of the town rather than trying to develop a solution that can be rolled out in all town centres.
This document sets a clear direction of travel for Kidderminster over the next 20 years. It is not a ‘blueprint’ for development, but an ambitious Vision to steer the form and quality of investment needed in the town centre.
The Vision will help steer the variety of projects which are already planned in the town centre, including the £20m from the Future High Streets Fund, and it will help access other financial support, such as the Levelling Up Fund.
Kidderminster is a town with a long history, and the ingredients for a bright future. It has a distinctive manufacturing heritage, an interesting and varied waterfront, excellent rail access, a strong civic presence, an independent spirit and an engaged local community that clearly values its town centre. It is therefore well placed to address the major social, economic, and physical challenges facing all town centres.
This is an optimistic Vision for Kidderminster town centre. It places culture, learning, health, the environment and most importantly people at the heart of the town. It is a vision that celebrates Kidderminster’s heritage, bringing historic buildings back to life. It is an inclusive vision, by and for local people, just under 2000 of whom contributed their views and ideas.
The Vision prioritises four elements fundamental to creating successful town centres of the future:
Town centres need a clear identity rooted in ‘place’. This is a vision that celebrates Kidderminster’s heritage and natural environment, bringing life back to its waterways and its historic buildings.
Distinctive. Diverse. Welcoming.
Town centres need to prioritise people. People focused environments encourage people to linger, to discover and to return.
Social. Liveable. Entrepreneurial.
Town centres need to demonstrate a wider social purpose. This Vision promotes action which will help address the challenges of physical and mental health, social exclusion, biodiversity and climate change.
Healthy. Sustainable. Ethical.
Town centres need to engage continuously with their communities. An inclusive process will create an inclusive town centre.
Inclusive processes build social capital - by this we mean that people of Kidderminster will have a say in how their town centre develops. Social capital reflects the degree to which a community feels able to influence what happens in its town centre. Town centres with a strong degree of social capital are more likely to be inclusive places reflecting the priorities of the people who use it. Increasing social capital is therefore a key part of the Vision for Kidderminster.
The best places are shaped by the people who use and value them most, and almost 2,000 people provided their input to the Vision. Other stakeholders were involved in zoom workshops, socially distanced walking tours and meetings. The results showed a clear desire for change.
1,853 survey responses
- U25 - 11%
- 25 - 34 11%
- 35-44 16%
- 45-54 22%
- 55-64 19%
- 65+ 21%
33% stay for more than 1 hour
77% Live in Kidderminster
52% Only visit Weavers Wharf or a supermarket
73% travel by car
The Vision Process has identified those parts of Kidderminster town centre that local people value the most. This includes the canalside, the River Stour and the cluster of outdoor restaurants around Husum Bridge. It includes the market, independent shops, restaurants, and bars dotted around the town centre, with clusters on Worcester Street and Vicar Street. It includes civic assets such as the Town Hall, the library and the Museum of Carpet as well as Brinton Park.
The wider comments received also recognise the importance of improving neglected assets and bringing important buildings such as the Former Magistrates’ Court, Slingfield Mill and Piano Building back into productive use. The Vision then seeks to ensure that these assets of importance to local residents are celebrated and supported as part of the comprehensive strategy for Kidderminster.
Local residents were asked to identify their favourite places in the town centre:
Image: Town centre map overlayed with words or place names in approximate locations - La Brasserie, Greggs, Cosy Cafe, M&S, Market Day, Charity Shops, The Bear and Wolf, Weavers Wharf, Husum bridge, Slingfield Mill, TK Maxx, Eat Outdoors, Savers, Town all, Tappeto lounge, Bistro Pierre, Rees Community Cafe, Beer emporium, Canalside, River Stour, Love Food Italia, Carpet Museum, Brinton Park.
Kidderminster residents value their town centre but recognise that it needs to change. The top 6 priorities for change identified in the survey were:
- More local and independent shops
- More green space and access to the river and canal
- More local and independent cafes and restaurants
- Better public open space to hold events and festivals
- More cultural space for arts, music, film and theatre
- More people living in the town centre.
These priorities reflect the wider desire across the country to see more diverse town centres with more cultural activity and a focus on local and independent businesses. Residents and visitors want to see greener town centres with more open space. They want to see more people living and working in their town centres, bringing life outside normal shopping hours. This Vision therefore seeks to address the priorities for change identified by the people of Kidderminster.97% of people supported change.
Inclusive town centres recognise that not everyone has the same priorities. Young people in particular use town centres slightly differently, and have different priorities for change.Town centres are important social spaces for young people, particularly during the day. Young people in Kidderminster are significantly more likely than other age groups to visit with their friends, whether to eat and drink, see a film or just ‘hang out’. The desire for better cultural and arts provision in Kidderminster is also strongest in the 18-25 age group suggesting an opportunity to bring more young people into the town centre. Younger people and older people are less likely to have access to a car and more reliant on walking, cycling and local buses. As a result, those under 25 or over 65 place a higher priority on improving public transport.
- 20% of young people visit the town centre to study, and Kidderminster College is likely to play an increasingly important social and economic role in the town.
- U25s visit the town centre more often for eating, drinking and socialising.
- 18-25 year olds give greater priority to improving cultural activity in the town centre.
- Those under 25 or over 65 place a higher priority on improving public transport links to the town centre.
To be successful, Kidderminster will need to maintain the conversation with local people. Continuing to plan and design in partnership with the community will ensure Kidderminster is an inclusive town centre, meeting the needs of all its residents, visitors and businesses. It is essential that younger generations feel involved and included in their town centre. Kidderminster will put in place specific mechanisms to involve young people and will start by seeking to engage Kidderminster College students in the co-design of new town centre public spaces.
Bristol’s Urban Room, run by the Architecture Centre is an open, accessible and democratic space where everyone can actively participate in the future of our buildings, streets and neighbourhoods. The Urban Room project allows the community to come together to explore innovative and creative ways for people to experience buildings at first hand through:
- Pop up installations in community settings
- Travelling Urban Rooms
- Live builds with communities
- Immersive, interactive outdoor commissions
- Talks and debates
- And as part of artist’s residencies.
Embedded within the project is Urban Room – Next Generation, a series of family workshops and creative collaborations with communities, children and young people which will explore the project themes of diversity and inclusive environments.
Distinctive town centres are strongly defined, and have an understanding of their history and how that has been shaped by their physical environment. They have a greater sense of local identity, a better connection with their local communities and a stronger ‘brand’ to attract visitors.
Diverse town centres are more interesting, more inclusive and more resilient. They are more flexible and adaptable to social, environmental and economic change.
A welcoming town centre can be accessed and used by everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, ability and sexuality. It is a place where design takes well-being and mental health into account. It is welcoming to residents, businesses, students and visitors.
Kidderminster’s industrial heritage remains visible across the town centre. It is particularly prominent in the Church Street/Vicar Street/Exchange Street corridor, and in the Castle Street/Dixon Street/Green Street areas. New public spaces will enhance the settings of St Mary’s Church, Baxter URC Church, The Piano Building, Morton’s Works, the rejuvenated Former Magistrates’ Court and the Museum. New pedestrian routes will encourage exploration of a wider town centre, and raise awareness of the town’s industrial and civic heritage. All routes will connect back to the civic heart of Kidderminster, the Town Hall and Penny Black Square.
The town’s natural environment has shaped Kidderminster’s growth. The river and surrounding hills were the reason the town was established. The river and the canal supported the growth of the town’s manufacturing base and are the focus for many of the factory buildings that create Kidderminster’s unique identity.
Distinctive town centres are strongly defined. The historic image of Kidderminster shows a strong defined town edge with open landscape in the foreground. Dealing with the ring road in a positive way and not as the back of the town can create a strong town centre in the future.
A quote from the public:
“Re-kindle Kidderminster’s heritage"
Kidderminster’s identity is rooted in its manufacturing heritage, its waterfront and its natural setting.
The Vision makes historic buildings more prominent with interesting uses, distinctive public spaces and integrated pedestrian routes. The Vision enhances the urban qualities of the canal and the natural qualities of the river corridor.
The Vision creates new public parks and social spaces that exploit the hilltop views and the waterfront setting. It proposes new homes, cafes and restaurants to bring life to these spaces.
- St Mary’s Church is the point at which the three heritage routes meet
- Strengthening the canal corridor
- The river corridor is a new green route with public spaces celebrating key buildings
- A new civic street connecting St Mary’s Church to the Rail Station
- Enhancing arrival and setting of the Severn Valley Railway
- Strengthening the presence of The Museum of Carpet
A quote from the public:
“Make the canal and the river a focus: encourage visitors by making them really special, vibrant places with cafés, arts and cultural activities."
Key project: Heritage and the Public Realm
The Vision identifies opportunities to promote Kidderminster’s Carpet Heritage across the town. It proposes new public spaces to enhance the setting of important heritage buildings and features, including a new space outside the Museum of Carpet and Former Magistrates’ Court.
The potential also exists to incorporate Kidderminster’s heritage into the design of the public realm, both physically and digitally, to create a stronger trail around the town centre. Integrating carpet and textile designs into the physical fabric of streets and spaces can bring the heritage to life in a different way. Individual streets can have their own unique carpet pattern, complemented by the street furniture and lighting. The temporary display of industrial machinery in public spaces can also help raise awareness of Kidderminster’s carpet heritage.
A programme of coordinated public realm and lighting improvements would promote other elements of Kidderminster’s heritage and create a safer and more inviting environment. A new square at the Rail Station recognises the importance of modern rail connections to Birmingham and the visitor and heritage value of the Severn Valley Railway. Celebrating the recently Grade II listed ‘Retaining Wall with Sculptural Relief’ by William Mitchell helps create a stronger sense of arrival for visitors, whilst the music heritage lends itself to audio-visual projects as well as distinctive street art
- Incorporating use of textile heritage into paving designs
- Incorporating music heritage into the public realm, physically and digitally
- Grade II listed Retaining Wall with Sculptural Relief
- Lighting heritage assets can entice people into the town centre
The Vision for Kidderminster creates a varied residential offer across the town centre, with space for young people, families and older people. It provides space for small businesses to grow and expand. It brings health and community uses into the town centre.
The Vision creates new spaces and repurposes buildings for markets, pop-up retailing, street food and events, creating a more diverse town centre offer. Importantly it creates different experiences across the week, encouraging more regular visits and a sense of discovery.
The Vision supports new internal and external spaces for creative businesses, cultural activity and education. There is a particular focus on improved events and exhibition spaces within the Town Hall, Kidderminster College and the Museum of Carpet.
- Bringing al fresco outdoor dining to the town centre
- Bringing public amenity and artists together in temporary installations
- Bringing a “festival vibe” to the town centre
- Play can be architectural
- Play can be simply fun
- Sustainable actions can inspire and be inclusive
Priority: More local and independent cafés and restaurants
The Vision creates a variety of places to live, eat, drink, shop, socialise and relax. It provides a distinctive setting for important civic and heritage buildings. It creates interesting and accessible routes for pedestrians and cyclists that connect Kidderminster’s important streets, spaces and
buildings. It encourages visitors to explore Kidderminster and strengthens local pride in the town’s heritage.
Key project: Kidderminster Town Hall
Kidderminster Town Hall has been a civic and cultural focal point in the town centre for over 150 years. A venue for music concerts, business and community events, municipal functions and registering births and celebrating weddings, it is one of Kidderminster’s most important buildings, and sits at the heart of the town centre, physically and socially.
The Vision reinforces this role and makes the Town Hall relevant and accessible to the whole community. It identifies opportunities to improve facilities for performing artists and audiences with raked seating, new audio-visual and lighting systems. This will enhance the Town Hall as a performance venue for music, theatre, dance and film in the town centre.
A new meeting and community arts space, inserted within an existing courtyard with café and restaurant facilities and a stronger external presence will promote the Town Hall better, improve the visitor experience and bring more people into the town centre. Reinterpretation of the Court Room, improvements to the Council Chamber and old library area will improve the education facilities in the town centre and showcase Kidderminster’s heritage.
Priority: More cultural space for arts, music, film and theatre
A range of jobs and homes brings a diversity of people, supports services throughout the week, provides ‘natural surveillance’ and creates a safer, friendlier town centre.
Streets and spaces will achieve a more appropriate balance between vehicles and other users. Some level of traffic can help increase activity and perceptions of safety but low traffic speeds are essential to ensure pedestrians and cyclists feel safe. 20mph will be the default approach within the town centre.
New public spaces encourage interaction between all sections of the community, reducing social isolation. Regular seating will provide opportunities for rest. High quality public toilets will improve health and make it easier for younger children, women, the disabled and older people to visit Kidderminster.
Whilst The Ringway will continue to move significant volumes of traffic, it will no longer act as a barrier between the town centre and those local communities that it currently divides. Revised junction layouts and new crossing facilities will ensure that key routes into town for those walking and cycling will be legible, convenient and enjoyable.
The Vision for Kidderminster is for all residents to feel safe and comfortable visiting the town centre, to feel welcome in its buildings, streets and spaces, and to be able to move easily and safely around it.
The Vision creates a variety of new pedestrian routes and new public spaces to help all people feel safe, comfortable and welcome in the town centre.
- Safe and welcoming routes and public spaces along the river and canal
- Improving arrival at the Ring Road
- Improving arrival from the rail station
- A variety of new public spaces across the town centre
Key Project: The Bull Ring
Kidderminster has already invested in demolishing Crown House, which has opened up views of the Baxters URC church and created a significant new opportunity area at the Bull Ring. Funding has been obtained from the Future High Streets Fund to consider the potential of re-opening the River Stour in this area to create a new gateway into the town, and a new public space with new bars and cafes to enable visitors to enjoy the water.
A quote from the public:
“Make use of the river area – restaurants and cafés, green spaces.
Kidderminster could be beautiful. The old Crown House site should not be car park."
Key Project: Pop-up and Meanwhile
The Vision creates a ‘guerrilla’ quarter along the River Stour between the new Bull Ring and the bars and restaurants at Husum Bridge. Pop up stalls, street food, public art, events and 'meanwhile uses' will create an exciting riverfront connection at the heart of the town centre.
Image: Photo of road with caption "as it is now" and artists impression of same road with pop up stalls, seating, trees and caption "as it could be".
Prioritising people creates ‘liveable’ town centres. Having more people living in the town centre supports the town centre retailers and services, stabilising and, if done well, reversing the decline.
It needs more than just living. Kidderminster Town Centre will put people ahead of cars, consider accessibility for all, put people’s health, wellbeing and social needs ahead of the shareholder demands of business. Kidderminster Town Centre will prioritise the environment, learning and leisure in the knowledge that a vibrant retail and strong economic culture will ‘feed off’ a place where people want to be.
Town centre living is contributing to the renaissance of towns nationwide creating vibrant and often entrepreneurial communities that themselves are major drivers of change, evolution and regeneration. Kidderminster deserves new living that is designed for Kidderminster, not something that can be rolled out anywhere – there are opportunities to lead on this through developments the Council is able to bring forward, instead of being reliant on third party landowners.
In Cambridge, Marmalade Lane is an award winning co-housing scheme, in which residents benefit from larger areas of shared space and shared facilities and ‘a more social way of life’. The innovative and inclusive process ensures residents are involved at the design stage and in the management of the community.
Goldsmith Street is an award winning, eco-friendly affordable development in Norwich. It was the first social housing scheme to win the Stirling Prize for architecture.
A quote from the public:
“Be innovative and provide opportunities for co-living and home-working, alongside family housing”
Better use will be made of surface car parks, with the opportunity to create higher density schemes bringing life to the town centre, creating safer public spaces and providing homes for young people. In Bristol, 11 affordable and low-carbon, modular ‘zedpods’ were built above Council owned car parking spaces as permanent living space for young workers.
Walsall modular homes
Better use will be made of the opportunities for waterfront living, especially in terms of connecting the Timber Yard site over the canal to the town centre. In Walsall, Urban Splash are replacing a small canalside car park with 15 new modular homes and a small park.
At Port Loop, Birmingham, redevelopment of a former industrial site provides new and improved towpaths, residential including 2, 3 & 4 bedroom homes with parking and gardens, community, leisure and new green space. It is all being done with a nod to the area’s industrial heritage which is reflected in the architectural character and is helping to bring people back to redundant industrial sites.
The public's Number one housing priority is affordable homes for young people.
A quote from the public:
“Provide more opportunities for people to work from home in Kidderminster”
The Vison brings a critical mass of new homes that will transform perceptions of town centre living in Kidderminster. It recognises the opportunities for waterfront living along the canal and river at the Timber Yard, new homes at Lion Fields with great views over the town and
the ‘urban village’ qualities of Churchfields.
Image: Line drawn map of town with following labels
- Churchfields Urban Village
- Lion Fields Town Centre Living
- Urban waterfront living
- Timber Yard
- Town Centre apartments
- Green Street
A quote from the public:
“Bring people into the town centre with more housing – make it a community!”
Key Project: Lion Fields
Significant potential exists at Lion Fields for a new mixed-use quarter, providing a range of innovative housing and live-work space, connected to Worcester Street and the Former Magistrates’ Court creative quarter, complementing the proposed leisure investment and within easy walking distance of the rail station. An imaginative scheme could transform
perceptions of family living in Kidderminster town centre.
Priority: More people living in the town centre
Key Project: Timber Yard Waterfront Living
The Timber Yard site offers a great opportunity for waterfront living, taking advantage of the canal and creating a new connection across the water connecting residential areas into the town centre.
An innovative and forward-thinking scheme here could attract and retain a younger generation, by offering desirable and affordable homes within easy walking distance of the town centre facilities and public transport hubs. The site would complement the different character of residential opportunities at Lion Fields and Churchfields Urban Village.
Image montage: various waterfront properties Buizengat, Rotterdam; Field of Lions (Leeuwenveld), Weesp; Foundry Mews, London; New Islington, Manchester; Field of Lions (Leeuwenveld), Weesp
A quote from the public:
“Pack it full of people living and working there. A town centre full of people will make it a lot more vibrant and exciting place to be!”
Successful town centres have always been about more than shopping, we just forgot that for a while. Kidderminster must be a social place where people will choose to gather for eating, drinking, leisure, culture, education, recreation and community activities, as well as to shop. It will also be a place where people want to come just to relax, meet friends and ‘hang out’.
The survey shows that local people value the independent cafes and restaurants in the town centre, and the opportunity Kidderminster provides for outdoor eating and drinking along the river. The Vision extends these opportunities by bringing new uses along the stretch of river between the Bull Ring and Husum Bridge and by opening up the river in the new ‘Bull Ring’ public space.
Priority: Better open public space to hold events and festivals
The Vision creates places to meet friends and relax in the heart of the town. It opens up the river corridor and shows the opportunity for a new town park. A new space close to the College will help younger people feel more at home in the town centre.
Key Project: Worcester Street Steps
The ‘Worcester Street Steps’ will create a new destination on Worcester Street, a space for residents and for those visiting the new town centre cinema and leisure attractions. It is part of a wider series of ‘connectivity projects’ to improve pedestrian routes across the town centre and to encourage visitors to explore Kidderminster’s heritage and its independent businesses.
Successful town centres evolve. This means they are flexible enough to be able to respond to social and economic change in a way that makes the best use of their existing physical assets.
Currently, as the demand for physical retail space declines, town centre buildings and streets need to repurpose themselves for a variety of uses, including employment space. More and more new small businesses are being set up every year, and they need low-cost, interesting flexible space, close to town centres and rail stations.
The Vision provides opportunities for small businesses to test the demand for their products through pop up activity, street markets and market halls. This provides low cost opportunities for start-ups and encourages longer term demand for permanent space in the town centre. Worcester Street is a perfect example, anchored by the Swan Centre and the Former Magistrates’ Court and with opportunities for reuse of vacant buildings.
We asked what do you want from Kidderminster in the future? A quote from the public:
“Independent retailers with eco friendly ethics.” “Small local shops, more personal and interesting.”
Swan Centre and Rowland Hill Centre
Shopping centres are having to reimagine and ‘repurpose’ themselves as shopping habits change as the demand for retail floorspace falls. The Swan Centre and Rowland Hill Centre are well located to bring more homes and more business space into Kidderminster town centre.
Curating co-working space is an opportunity to meet the demand for ‘working from home’ and growth in small business formation. Rooftop space provides potential for community and leisure spaces, for pop up events, bars and restaurants and for new homes.
Post Covid, many shopping centres are also looking to meet the growing demand for local, neighbourhood based shopping, including curating foodhalls and independent ‘department stores’ for small businesses.
The public said the number one priority is:
“More local and independent shops in the town centre.”
The Avenue shopping centre in Bournemouth is being repurposed as a place where local independents will be combined with bigger brands. It will be more than just a place where you can buy things and be based more on experiences, for example a coffee come bike repair shop will provide the only covered café in the town centre. There will be offices, event spaces, a giant TV screen for public screenings and in due course a roof top bar and places to live.
Central Parade, Walthamstow is former council office space on the High Street. It is currently being operated by a local community interest company as a mixed use creative hub, including a variety of retail, co-working, studio and exhibition space and a bakery-café. It also offers cultural events and activities throughout the week and into the evening.
This Vision places Worcester Street at the heart of an entrepreneurial mixed-use ‘neighbourhood’, providing interesting and unique places to eat, drink, shop, live and work. It would showcase the best of Kidderminster’s local, specialist, independent businesses through the day and into the evening extending from the railway station to Horsefair, incorporating a repurposed Former Magistrates’ Court, Rowland Hill Centre and Swan Centre.
Image: line drawn map of town highlighting Horsefair; Swan Centre; Rowland Hill Centre; Magistrates' Court; Museum of Carpet; Kidderminster Rail Station
Horsefair, Worcester Street and Comberton Road will be the independent, entrepreneurial spine of Kidderminster.
Key Project: Kidderminster Creative Hub
Former Magistrates’ Court Building
The Former Magistrates’ Court building has funding to create a focus for creative industries and small businesses. Large, empty buildings which are unsuitable for national retailers can be home to a variety of small businesses, bringing life and interest to the street and potential expenditure to support other independent shops, cafes and services.
This re-purposing of buildings with a creative and independent focus will clearly respond to desires expressed in the survey and will help position Kidderminster as entrepreneurial and forward facing town. It is vital that the interiors, branding, and tone of voice do not feel ‘council/public sector’ and that there is an understanding of the creative demographic that needs to be attracted as well as their design-led non-corporate aesthetic.
Successful towns have a civic and a social purpose, reflected not just in the uses and activities that it provides but in the way it does business.
A place with a clear, defined purpose will always be successful. By rooting a place in purpose you create a strong foundation for decision making, which in turn creates a clear path for the future.
‘What do we believe in and how do we get there?’ sits at the heart of a town’s purpose.
Leading with purpose is essential to building and maintaining a successful town. It’s about coming together to get behind a common mission, creating a set of shared values and goals. By putting purpose at the heart of a town, you are essentially creating a blueprint for the present and future success of a place.
Believing in a sustainable town puts the climate crisis at the heart of a place’s purpose. Now more than ever it is vital that a town meets the needs of the citizens without compromising the ability for future generations to flourish.
Believing in an ethical city is about promoting what is right, fair, just and good both for the people and the place. It’s about looking at good governance, transparency, social inclusion.
Kidderminster is demonstrating ethical “purpose” with its plans to enhance the civic and educational roles of the Town Hall and Kidderminster College and to turn the magnificent Former Magistrates’ Court into a town centre creative community beacon. The creative industries have been and continue to be at the forefront of town centre renaissances creating economic and social benefit. Together with key cultural, community and creative uses, including the Severn Valley Railway, the Museum of Carpet and St. Mary’s Church, these facilities will create a strong civic spine through the town centre.
Important cultural, creative and community uses, with an ethical focus, can form the basis of a strong ‘Civic Spine’ for Kidderminster town centre.
Kidderminster’s Vision puts education and culture at the heart of the town centre, literally and metaphorically. Kidderminster College, the Library and Town Hall will be an accessible focus for education, culture and public services at the heart of the town, with a strong civic presence on Vicar Street, Exchange Street and the river corridor.
A new civic street
The route from the Rail Station to Kidderminster Town Hall and St Mary’s Church will be reimagined as Kidderminster’s Civic Corridor, with treatment of the public realm highlighting the importance of its manufacturing heritage, the new creative industries, its civic and cultural buildings.
Image: line drawn map of town highlighting route though town and labelling Church St; Vicar St; Oxford St; Comberton Hill and the following landmarks:
- St Mary's Church
- Baxter URC Church
- Town Hall
- Kidderminster College
- Former Magistrates' Court
- Museum of Carpet
- Severn Valley Railway
- Kidderminster Rail Station
Key Project: Kidderminster College
Kidderminster College will play a key role in the long term success of the town centre. The Vision seeks to enhance its civic and its social presence. A south facing extension, new entrance and social space for students and visitors would help to achieve this.
New public spaces celebrate the town’s civic and cultural activities, recognising its history and looking to the future:
- A new square to recognise the importance of modern rail connections to Birmingham and the visitor role of the Severn Valley Railway.
- A new arrival space to announce the regeneration of the Former Magistrates’ Court and the continuing relevance of the Carpet Museum to the fabric and identity of the town.
- New spaces providing appropriate settings for Baxter URC and St Mary’s Church.
- And new spaces to recognise the central role of education to the life of the town and its people.
Believing in a healthy town shows that you are dedicated to continually creating and improving the physical and social environments of a place. Health not only applies to residents but includes the health of the local environment too.
Healthy town centres encourage physical activity, address social exclusion, provide clean air and a variety of green space. Kidderminster is a very ‘walkable’ town centre, and more of its residents could be walking and cycling. The Vision removes the key barriers to walking and cycling, particularly the underpass from the rail station and the difficult connection across the Ring Road to Churchfields and St Mary’s Church. Reducing car dependency will reduce pollution, traffic danger and congestion. Increased active travel will also improve residents’ health and quality of life.
A quote from the public:
“We need safe lock-ups for bicycles, I would cycle into town instead of taking the car.”
The Mini-Holland scheme is part of the London Mayor’s Healthy Streets Approach and is aimed specifically at outer London boroughs where residents are more car dependent than inner London. It aims to make these boroughs as cycle-friendly as their Dutch equivalents – where more than 50% of journeys are made by cycle in some cities.
Low traffic neighbourhoods are now being introduced across the country, but the London Borough of Waltham Forest in northwest London has been a pioneer in this regard, implementing modal filters to remove rat-running in residential neighbourhoods. Local vehicle access is still permitted whilst conditions for walking, cycling and simply living are all improved as the quantity and speed of vehicles is reduced.
Key Project: Ring Road Arrival
Greening the Ring Road will improve arrival into the town centre for visitors and improve the quality of the physical environment for residents. It will also assist with improving air quality and tackling climate change.
The Vision seeks to reduce the separation between residential areas and the town centre created by the poor connections across the Ring Road. Revised junction layouts and new crossing facilities will ensure that key routes into town for those walking and cycling will be legible, convenient and enjoyable. Improved pedestrian crossings and removal of subways will make it significantly easier for residents to walk and cycle into the town centre.
Improvements will also focus on enhancing connections between the town centre and key destinations outside the Ring Road. Improving pedestrian and cycle routes from the rail station will help promote the town centre as a place to live and work as well as encouraging visits to the Severn Valley Railway and to independent businesses on Comberton Hill. To the north, improved crossings will encourage more visits to independent businesses at Horsefair and help to connect the canal locks and St Mary’s Church with Church Street and Bull Ring.
In 2016 1.6km of Sheffield’s inner city dual-carriageway was transformed with two lanes of the original highway replaced
with wild flowers, trees and shrubs as well as seating and public art.
As part of the “Connecting Leicester” project the Belgrave Flyover, built in 1974, was demolished to create a landscaped gateway between the city centre and the Golden Mile.
Believing in a sustainable town puts the climate crisis at the heart of a place’s purpose. Now more than ever it is vital that a town meets the needs of the citizen’s without compromising the ability for future generations to flourish.
Prioritising walking and cycling, maximising town centre housing opportunities, and strengthening the role of the rail and bus stations will all help reduce the need to travel by car. In addition, the new pedestrian routes and public spaces provide an opportunity to address the lack of green space in the town centre. Priority is given to opening up new areas of the river and creating new green spaces, including a pedestrian route and riverside park in the heart of the town centre.
A sustainable town centre also makes the most of its existing buildings. A vacant building strategy has been commissioned, and Kidderminster will continue to explore ways in which its historical buildings can be brought back into productive use. As well as the former Magistrates’ Court this will include key buildings such as Slingfield Mill and the Piano Building. It also includes potential repurposing of shopping centres and
identifying long term productive roles, as well as short term meanwhile uses, for vacant shop units, particularly along Worcester Street.
The Vision creates a compact and walkable town centre. The survey shows that people who walk and cycle visit the town centre more often and spend more. People who walk are more likely to visit local businesses and more likely to visit pubs, bars and restaurants in the evening. So walking is good for physical health, mental health, environmental health and economic health.
Kidderminster is a compact and highly walkable town centre. A wide range of interesting retail, cultural and leisure attractions are within a
comfortable 5-minute walk of Vicar Street, and can be explored easily by visitors.
Image: line drawn map of town showing landmarks, 2 colours of shading indicates areas that are a 2 or 5 minute walk from Vicar Street.
Green space improves the physical and mental health of those living and working in the town centre. It encourages visitors to stay longer. It
promotes biodiversity and helps to address the climate emergency.
The Vision addresses the lack of green space in Kidderminster town centre. It opens up the river as a more natural linear green space,
connecting St Mary’s Church to the Bull Ring to Castle Street and Dixon Street.
The Vision capitalises on the opportunities for more green space in Kidderminster town centre, particularly along the waterfront but also in new public spaces and along the Ring Road.
Image: line drawn map of the town with the text Riverside Parks, Greening the ring road, Pocket Parks and celebrating the water.
Key Project: Riverside Park
Decked car parking makes efficient use of space, creating opportunities for a larger riverside park, a place to relax and to celebrate the natural and built environment of Kidderminster.
Priority: More green space and access to the river and canal.
This is an exciting time for Kidderminster town centre. It has the essential ingredients for a successful future. There is public support for change, a clear Vision to guide that change, a Council that is willing to lead the way and funding available to start to implement that change. The town will ultimately be judged by its actions, by the way it engages with its community and by the quality of development that results.
The Kidderminster Vision
Kidderminster has secured over £20m from the Future High Streets Fund which will help start to deliver this Vision. Funding is allocated for the regeneration of the Former Magistrates’ Court, for the new public space at the Bull Ring, for improvements to Worcester Street and to support strategic property acquisitions.
The Vision will also be used to support Kidderminster’s bid to the Levelling Up Fund. Key projects could include the provision of new housing in the town centre, new uses for the Piano Building and connecting the Timber Yard site to Weavers Wharf across the canal.
These programmes will reinforce other proposals to enhance the town centre, including improvements to the Town Hall facilities, expansion of Kidderminster College and measures to improve walking and cycling into the town centre.
A coordinated Action Plan will therefore be prepared to deliver the following projects identified within this Vision.
|Project||Description||Key Vision Principles|
|Kidderminster Town Hall||
Enhancement of cultural and performance facilities within one of Kidderminster’s most important civic buildings (see page 21)
|Distinctive, Diverse, Welcoming, Social,
Liveable, Entrepreneurial, Ethical
|Heritage and the Public Realm||Working with the Museum of Carpet and local artists to promote Kidderminster’s textile heritage through design of the public realm (see page 18)||Distinctive, Diverse, Welcoming, Social,
Entrepreneurial, Healthy, Ethical
|Creative Business Hub||Renovation of the former Former Magistrates’ Court to create a focus for
creative businesses in the town centre. (see page 41)
|Distinctive, Diverse, Entrepreneurial,
|Canalside Living||Redevelopment of the Timber Yard to create a new residential quarter for
Kidderminster along the canal (see page 33)
|Distinctive, Diverse, Social, Liveable, Sustainable, Healthy, Ethical|
|Churchfield Urban Village||Completion of the new residential quarter immediately north of the town centre (see page 28)||Distinctive, Diverse, Social, Liveable, Sustainable, Healthy|
|Lion Fields||New mixed-use quarter, supporting new leisure and business development on
Worcester Street and with potential for innovative new housing in the town centre (see page 32)
|Distinctive, Diverse, Welcoming, Social,
Liveable, Entrepreneurial, Sustainable, Healthy, Ethical
|Bull Ring||New public space, removing parking to enhance the setting of historic buildings
and with possibilities to open up the river (see page 25)
|Distinctive, Diverse, Welcoming, Social,
|Pop Up and Meanwhile||Promoting temporary uses to support new businesses, attract visitors and reuse
vacant properties (see page 26)
|Distinctive, Diverse, Welcoming, Social,
Entrepreneurial, Sustainable, Ethical
|Riverside Park||Public space along the river edge to create new pedestrian routes and more
green space in the town centre. (see page 54)
|Distinctive, Diverse, Welcoming, Social,
Liveable, Healthy, Sustainable, Ethical
|Worcester Street Steps||A new public space linking Lion Fields to the town centre, and creating a visitor destination to support independent businesses on Worcester Street (see page 36)||Distinctive, Diverse, Welcoming, Social,
|Shopping Centres||Repurposing the indoor shopping environment at Rowland Hill Centre and Swan Centre. Curating independent businesses and bringing opportunities for town centre living. (see page 38)||Distinctive, Diverse, Social, Liveable, Entrepreneurial, Sustainable, Ethical|
|The Ring Road||Improving arrival for visitors and creating stronger routes for pedestrians and
cyclists to ensure The Ringway is not a barrier to visiting the town centre (see page 48)
|Distinctive, Welcoming, Liveable, Healthy, Sustainable|
|Station Approach||A new public square for this important civic area. Encouraging travel by rail
and visits to the Severn Valley Railway and Museum, improving arrival and
strengthening walking and cycling routes into the town centre (see page 18)
|Distinctive, Diverse, Welcoming, Social,
Liveable, Entrepreneurial, Healthy, Sustainable, Ethical
|Kidderminster College||A new entrance space and social space to recognise the importance of education
and young people in the town centre, and the key civic role of the College (see
|Distinctive, Diverse, Welcoming, Social,
Implementing the Vision
Image: line drawn map of town with prominent buildings and areas in colour. The following areas are labelled:
- Churchfield Urban Village
- Swan Centre
- Lion Fields: Town Centre Living
- Canalside Living
- Bull Ring
- Town Hall
- Worcester Street Steps
- Kidderminster College
- Former Magistrates' Court (Creative Hub)
- Museum of Carpet
- Station Approach
- Severn Valley Railway
- Riverside Park
- Green Street
Current regeneration projects
Future High Streets Fund (FHSF)
The Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) is a Government funding initiative to transform struggling high streets. Kidderminster has been awarded £20.5 million from this fund. The announcement was made on 26 December 2020.
All projects funded by the Future High Streets Fund are to be fully delivered by March 2024. The three approved FHSF projects are all part of the ReWyre visioning – reflecting the need to improve connectivity in the town and redevelop key sites. The three major regeneration projects being enabled by the Future High Streets Fund in Kidderminster are the redevelopment of the Former Magistrates Court, the Bullring area – including the former Crown House site and Worcester Street connectivity improvements.
Town centre improvements
As part of the ReWyre initiative, the Council has been able to successfully attract funding from Worcestershire County Council to improve the public area of Kidderminster town centre including new paving, street furniture and lighting. These improvements extended from Exchange Square to the High Street/Worcester Street junction. More recently further town centre development work enabled the opening up of Worcester Street to traffic.
Enabling growth and enterprise
In 2016, furthering the ReWyre initiative, Wyre Forest District Council's Cabinet approved a new strategy for enabling business growth and enterprise prepared by NWedR. This strategy was updated and approved by the Council’s Cabinet in May 2021.
In 2016, the Council adopted the vision for the Eastern Gateway area which has now become known as Lionfields. This vision, created in partnership with One Creative based in Worcester, was successfully embedded into the adopted Local Plan to ensure that the proposals had context when key planning decisions had to be taken.
In 2016, Wyre Forest District Council's Cabinet approved a new strategy for enabling business growth and enterprise. The strategy was prepared by NWedR.
Lion Fields is a collection of inter-related sites that provide a regeneration opportunity within Kidderminster Town Centre. The area has been split into a number of parcels, which are being developed independently with the recognition that they all form part of the wider regeneration and development of the town centre.
The first phase of the development has seen the demolition of the former Glades Leisure Centre, to provide a cleared site and, following a formal competitive tender process undertaken by Wyre Forest District Council, Cordwell Property Group along with Peveril Securities have been selected as the preferred developer. The development proposed is a mixed-use leisure facility which will be anchored by a cinema.
The second phase of Lion Fields is the area that is dominated by the former Magistrates Court. This site is likely to be a residential led redevelopment and will be slightly more challenging to deliver due to some of the site constraints that exist.
Hoobrook Link Road and Silverwoods
The new £16m road provides a vital link to the strategic highway network from the A451 Stourport Road through to the A442 Worcester Road. Following the delivery of the road, developers are currently building new industrial and commercial properties along this route.
Churchfields plans include a development of circa 350 homes in Churchfields, Kidderminster. New infrastructure has been developed.
The project aims to deliver a new urban village alongside a range of highways improvements to support the development. These include a significant enhancement to the A456 roundabout at Blackwell Street, a new T-junction providing access to Churchfields, and the creation of a new link road from the A456 to the development area.
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