See the “Background” section at the foot of this post for information about the scope, scale and schedule of this project.
Update 5 October 2023
The first phase having been completed in March 2023 (see below) there was then a pause while the election took place and, resulting from this, the new administration got its feet under the table. That now having happened, a preliminary online meeting took place on 27 September, chaired by Owen Jeffery in his capacity as Thatcham Town Councillor.
Martin Colston, the portfolio holder responsible for the initiative, has told Penny Post that “we are now planning a follow-up in-person evening event in Thatcham to allow business owners to attend. The purpose will be to prioritise the top two or three of the nine projects in the Thatcham Town Centre Strategy (p42 if you’re looking at the thumbnails or pp82-3 if you’re following the numbers at the top of each page) WBC will then progress one or more of the selected projects such that we are in a position to bid for grants to deliver them.”
Update 25 March 2023
Please click here to see further information on the results of the consultations.
Due the election, there was then a pause in this project. It’s expected that during the summer of 2023 the new West Berkshire Council will, in conjunction with the main organisations in the town, agree how the work will continue.
Update 12 January 2023
The formal consultations (see below) have closed but over the next six weeks or so there will continue to be engagement with stakeholders, including the town council. The exercise is on course to be concluded at the end of February 2023 and the results will be published shortly thereafter.
Update 5 December 2022
The consultation deadline is Monday 9 January. You can click here to take part.
The consultation covers both Thatcham and Hungerford: you can reply to either parts or to both, as you decide. The survey takes about 10 minutes. The more responses are received, the more relevant the conclusions will be and the greater the chances of securing funding for the towns from the government and other bodies.
You don’t need to live in or work in the towns (or even in West Berkshire) to contribute. If you visit either place, even occasionally, your views are important.
Please pass the survey on to as many others as you can, particularly young people and those who may not regularly be online. Paper copies will be available from Thatcham Town Council, Hungerford Town Council, Thatcham Library and Hungerford Hub and Library.
Your feedback will be taken into consideration and used to develop the final placemaking strategies, which WBC aims to complete by the beginning of March 2023. Once the strategies have been finalised, WBC will work with Hungerford and Thatcham Town Councils, business, residents, community groups, and other stakeholders to take the proposals forward. You’ll be able to view the final strategies and keep up to date with progress on WBC’s town centres’ webpage.
Update 28 November 2022
It’s been announced that the public survey for the Thatcham and Hungerford place-making strategies will run from Monday 5 December 2022 to Monday 9 January 2023. Further information, including the link to the survey, will be provided in due course.
Update 11 November 2022
A workshop was held in the Thatcham Town Council Hall on 10 November, attended by local retailers, town and district councillors, local school representatives and other local organisations – about 25 people in all. The purpose was not so much to provide solutions but to identify the issues which this exercise could help address. All five working groups identified several issues and challenges of Thatcham town centre and also touched on matters outside this core area that might have an influence on it.
The Place-making team will then use comments and ideas to formulate specific proposals which will be the subject of public consultation. It’s hoped that this will start in December and run until early to mid-January. This schedule should give the team enough time to consider and evaluate the responses and finalise the recommendations before the project’s end date of 31 March. As mentioned below, this will be given wide publicity in Penny Post and elsewhere.
As part of its programme of work to protect and enhance the high streets and town centres of the district, West Berkshire Council has appointed Hemingway Design to develop a Place-making Strategy for Thatcham town centre (similar work is also being done in Hungerford as part of the same project).
Place-making Strategies are visual plans for the town centres with a range of suggested improvements and uses which will enhance their vitality and economic success in the future. Hemingway undertook similar work last year with the Newbury Town Centre Masterplan, details of which you can see here.
The place-making strategies will involve the following stages:
- The first step will be discussions with organisations such as the town councils, retailers and local organisations. This will enable the Place-making team to understand not only the aspects of the town that should be preserved and enhanced but also the ones that need improvement.
- This will then lead into a public consultation process, which is a vital part of this exercise. The open public consultation will be held to formulate the final plans: it’s hoped that the success of these will match that of the Newbury Masterplan consultation which received about 5,000 responses. We’ll announce soon when the consultation will take place so that you can provide your input. You can in the mean time find more information by clicking here.
- This will then lead to the creation of a strategy document which will include visioning of what the future might look like.
- How many of the aspirations are realised will depend on the availability of grant funds. This kind of inclusive and detailed exercise is an important pre-condition for many organisations and government departments to consider releasing funds. In addition, the higher the level of public engagement with the consultation, the more convinced any funders will be that the proposals have widespread community support. Your involvement will, therefore, be influential.
Each important stage of the process, including the consultation, will be given wide publicity, including in Penny Post. This post will be updated as necessary and the changes promoted in the weekly and monthly newsletters.
Note that that the place-making strategy is completely distinct from the 30-year vision which is being developed for Thatcham as a result of the emerging local plan (even though the consultation periods of the two will overlap).
Please click here to see a post that covers the same exercise which is also taking place in Hungerford.