Oswestry: what’s the latest? An update from the Future Oswestry Group
The Future Oswestry partnership is comprised of representatives from Shropshire Council, Oswestry Town Council, Oswestry BID and members of the community. It was set up in 2020 to help deliver activities and projects that will benefit the town, its residents and its businesses.
Read more about the partnership and some of its projects here: Future Oswestry Project | Shropshire Council
The partners provide regular updates about activities as they feel it’s important that local people and businesses feel informed about what’s going on in Oswestry in terms of public spaces, future developments, roads and highways, and projects that will enhance everyday life.
Progress updates as of today (Thursday 30 November 2023) include:-
Oswestry Town Council purchases Llwyd Mansion
Oswestry Town Council has concluded the purchase of the iconic Grade 1 listed building Llwyd Mansion, which brings the building into public ownership for the first time.
The building is in a vulnerable condition and as a result, Oswestry Town Council is working with Shropshire Council and Historic England to create a repair package for the building.
Further surveys are required in order to prioritise repairs and to enable the council to apply for further funding to complete the works. These surveys will take time; however, the council wants to reassure the public that work is progressing to preserve this important building for the future.
Given the nature of the external repairs, some work will take place in the spring and therefore it will be some time before the building is ready to be fully occupied. The council hopes to open the building for public viewing and share updates on this exciting project. The council will be erecting hoardings as a safety measure, replacing the existing fencing and will keep the area clean and tidy.
Latest from Church Street Enhancement Project
An initiative by Oswestry BID (Business Improvement District) to improve and enhance Church Street took another step forward this week with the introduction of several new planters and street furniture.
The planters and seating provide the finishing touches to the scheme, said Adele Nightingale, BID Manager, who hopes the changes will make for an even more attractive place to shop and dwell in town.
“We really want to thank the staff from Kier for their patience and support in situating the planters, and preparing them for planting; to Gillhams for kindly looking after the teams; to Louise from Environmental Associates for all her hard work overseeing the planting; and an especial thank you to the Oswestry in Bloom team for doing an amazing job planting up with great care and enthusiasm!”
Tim Morris, co-owner of Church Street bookshop, Booka, welcomed the improvements.
“Great to see the new planters going in. It all helps to green-up the town centre, making it an even more pleasant environment for everyone.”
Following the planters installation, Oswestry BID plan to clean up the area, then, once the planting has bedded in, will be adding bark and capping off the planters.
English Walls toilets refurbishment
Oswestry Town Council has appointed local contractors Jones Brothers of Weston Rhyn to deliver the improvements to the public toilets on English Walls, Oswestry.
Plans include a ‘Changing Places’ facility, so that everyone, regardless of their access needs, disability, or reliance on the assistance of carers or specialist equipment, can use a toilet facility hygienically and with dignity.
The new facilities will recognise the needs of those people with learning disabilities and profound physical disabilities such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis.
Other changes will see improvements to the existing provision, including four individual unisex cubicles with hand-washing facilities, and investment in the fabric of the building. Work will begin in early December and will be completed by the end of March 2024.
Oswestry High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ)
In the final months of the HSHAZ Project the partnership has been taking stock of what they have managed to achieve.
A total of 17 shop fronts have been improved in the town centre, they’ve helped create 11 new accommodation units and brought three retail units back into use. They have improved historic alleyways helping to improve footfall to businesses located on them and make them nicer places to use.
Over the coming weeks they will be tackling Clawdd Du. From consultation carried out with the public, the presence of the bins came out top as something that residents felt needed to be resolved, as well as reducing the fire risk that they pose.
Over the next couple of weeks, there will be some changes next to Home Bargains on Willow Street. This will involve the removal of seating to open up the area so that a new bin store can be installed.
The bin store will allow the removal of the wheelie bins currently situated on Clawdd Du and allow the alley way to be free of bins, for the very first time. Once installed, a new planter with a seat will be added at the New Street junction and work to clean-up the alleyway will also begin.
The removal of the bins has been achieved as part of the Oswestry High Street Heritage Action Zone delivered by the Future Oswestry Group, which consists of members from Shropshire Council, Oswestry Town Council and the Oswestry BID.
‘Love Oswestry’ Festival February 2024
Oswestry arts and culture festival ‘Love Oswestry’ will be returning on 17 February 2024 with drama performances, music workshops, walking tours and the spectacular lantern parade. The festival is run by Oswestry’s Cultural Consortium and reflects Oswestry’s growing arts scene.
The Cross update
Following an accident in May this year, the historic Cross Fountain Monument was damaged and subsequently it was removed from outside Cross Market Hall. Oswestry Town Council has received notification that insurance will be paying for the repairs and the monument will return next year.
Oswestry Town Market Refurbishment
Oswestry Town Market is undergoing refurbishment with external painting of the walls, doors, guttering and fascia. There will be new signage following a recent logo update and there are plans for an outdoor mural in 2024.
Active travel proposals
Shropshire Council is leading on feasibility work for Oswestry town centre as part of the Phase 1 of the Oswestry Cycle network with an expected completion date of March 2024. As part of this programme, design options for the cycle network within the town centre will be discussed with key stakeholders in the New Year.
The analysis of all the feedback received from the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) consultation held over the summer has now been completed.
The final LCWIP document is due to got to Cabinet with a recommendation for adoption on 18 January 2024. Work is ongoing to refine schemes and to facilitate integration and alignment with other key council plans, policies and programmes of work.
Gobowen – Oswestry Railway Line
Following the recent announcement of the Network North initiative by Government, a call was held to discuss next steps to progress the proposal involving representatives of the Department of Transport (DfT), Network Rail, Cambrian Railways Society and Shropshire Council.
Funding had previously been awarded to undertake the Strategic Business Case with consultants. This report was presented to the DfT in autumn 2022 which identified the need for transport investment in the Oswestry and Gobowen area, set objectives for that investment and appraised a range of options which could deliver those objectives.
The Network North programme has funding earmarked, however projects under consideration will be subject to business case updates.
DfT to lead on this with Network Rail who have been asked to prepare costs for the next phase to support the development of the Business Case and present them to DfT for consideration.
This first phase of development will consider high level costs, asset conditions, operations and land considerations. If the success criteria for phase 1 is met – primarily a Benefits Cost Ratio of above 1 then the project would progress into Phase 2. This second phase will include updated costs, economic appraisal, revenue generation, cumulating into a single option choice and the Outline Business Case.
Cambrian Railway Building
Shropshire Council has commissioned a Conservation Management Plan for the Cambrian Railway Building which is a grade 2 listed building. This study will document the building’s historic importance and undertake the options appraisal with key partners and stakeholders to identify possible end uses for this building, which has vital importance and potential for Oswestry.
The council has also submitted a funding bid to secure funding to repair the exterior of the building, including to make safe the ornate corbels, re-slate the roof and repaint the doors and windows. This proposed work would enable the council to undertake critical repairs to the exterior of building to make it safe to visitors and the public. This is a first step to enable the building to be brought back into a sustainable use to meet its potential in the regeneration of the economy and environment in Oswestry. The priority repairs include work to the corbels and roof which will allow the current scaffolding to be removed.
The study would also identify any further work that would be needed to adapt the building to enable end-uses considered to proceed, e.g. suitable new heating and insulation, planning for climate change resilience etc.
Mile End Bridge and Innovation Park
The bridge over the A5 at Mile End has now been installed, with on-site activities continuing with the installation of ramps, drainage and landscaping, which will see the completion of the works by spring 2024.
It marks the second key development to the area following the Mile End junction improvements, completed last year. Together, these works will support the planned development of much needed employment land in the town at the Innovation Park.
Preparations for the proposed Innovation Park are progressing including designs for the procurement package for all roads, connectivity, and incoming utilities to start on site from spring 2024.
The planned infrastructure works will bring forward serviced employment land plots from early 2025, which will enable the disposal of the whole site rather than the previously planned phased approach. The demand and interest for plots and enquiries are being logged, and plots will all be offered on the open market once the infrastructure contracts have been placed in the new year.
Keep up to date with news and updates from the Future Oswestry partnership by following their Facebook and Twitter accounts @FutureOswestry.
For more information on Oswestry BID, visit: oneoswestry.co.uk or on Facebook @oswestrybid and @oneoswestry.