FuturePlaces, BCP Council’s urban regeneration company, has hosted a Westover Road technical workshop to shape plans for the revitalisation of Bournemouth’s cultural and retail district.
Last week (7 - 9 June 2022) local traders and other key stakeholders attended a three-day workshop, known as a charette, to join FuturePlaces’ stewardship and placemaking experts and council officers from planning, urban design, heritage, communities, tourism, culture, economic development, transport, and other services to identify solutions to the challenges faced in the area and agree plans to put into action.
Facilitated by educational charity The Prince’s Foundation, the charette aims to listen to the views and experiences of stakeholders, mediate their interests and secure specialist expert input to resolve:
- What is the potential for reviving and strengthening the range of retailers?
- What role can art and culture play to regenerate the area, fill empty retail units, and drive footfall?
- What would help the street attract, engage, and retain visitors, tourists, and regular performing arts patrons?
- How can the Lower Gardens and Westover Road interact and better support each other?
- What should the balance of public realm be between shoppers, vehicles, bicycles, and events?
The focus area for the Westover Road Charette includes the blocks enclosed by Bournemouth Lower Gardens and Westover Road to the east, Bath Road to the south, Old Christchurch Road to the west and Hinton Road to the north. Additionally, the charette is taking into context a wider area representing an approximate 10-minute walking radius around Westover Road and includes important complementary sites and uses, such as the Lower Gardens, Bournemouth Beach, adjacent parts of Old Christchurch Road retail and conservation area and nearby parking provision.
BCP Council Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Development, Growth and Regeneration Councillor Philip Broadhead said: “Westover Road presents a tremendous opportunity for Bournemouth to reimagine our cultural and retail offer to residents and visitors. It is inspiring to hear key stakeholders, including the tight-knit community of existing traders, openly sharing their ideas, experiences, and concerns with the Council and FuturePlaces. The aim of this intensive process is not to have another talking shop, it is to identify resilient solutions to revitalise this much-loved area and attract further investment to create new and varied social, cultural, leisure and retail activities.”
FuturePlaces Managing Director Gail Mayhew said: “Speaking to local businesses and other organisations shows the passion people have for Westover Road and their desire to see improved public realm design and regeneration of the area. Great placemaking starts with listening to those who care about where they live, work and relax before plans are formulated to ensure the design responds to their needs and aspirations. We look forward to continuing the conversation with stakeholders attending the charette and speaking with residents and businesses in the wider area as we develop our approach to this project.”
Bournemouth Town Centre BID COO Paul Kinvig said: “We support the initiative FuturePlaces has taken to host the Westover Road Charette and canvass the views of our members who are eager to see the area revitalised – attracting increased footfall, better profits, and new, complementary businesses to fill vacant units. Participating in this project enables us to progress our ambition to make a more welcoming, vibrant, and positive Bournemouth town centre. It is critical this scoping initiative moves quickly into action that is beneficial to businesses and visitors alike.”
Bournemouth Area Hospitality Association (BAHA) Vice Chair Rosie Radwell said: “A thriving cultural and retail district is vital to the success of hotels and accommodation providers in attracting a diverse range of guests throughout the year seeking memorable experiences. We welcome the opportunity to share our members’ views to help improve Westover Road and make it a jewel in Bournemouth’s crown once again.”