First plans submitted for Shrewsbury town centre’s riverside regeneration
Following weeks of public consultation this autumn, the first in a series of planning applications for the Smithfield Riverside regeneration project in Shrewsbury is now submitted.
Led by Shropshire Council and its development manager, RivingtonHark, Smithfield Riverside is the ambitious regeneration project set to transform the area between the River Severn, Darwin Centre, Roushill and Raven Meadows in Shrewsbury town centre.
The first of four ‘phase one’ planning applications has now been submitted. Funded by almost £19 million of Levelling Up money from UK Government, the plans, if approved, would see the demolition of the Riverside shopping centre and former Riverside medical practice.
This would pave the way for key enabling works, clearing the site and creating a landmark new public park adjacent to Roushill – helping to breathe new life into the area, creating a green and attractive public meeting place, and improve biodiversity in the town centre.
The park will feature play equipment for visitors of different ages, as well as a dedicated events and performance area.
Future ‘phase one’ public consultations and subsequent planning applications are already being developed for the wider Smithfield Riverside masterplan, which has been designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects. These evolving proposals include modern offices, new homes and an exciting new leisure offer with restaurants and a cinema.
The next planning application is due in early 2024.
Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council’s deputy leader, said:
“This is an important milestone for the future of Shrewsbury and of Shropshire. A great deal of work has taken place to get us to this stage and we are excited to submit our first of several planning applications, as we look to begin the transformation of this key area in our town centre and after many years and much talk, this starts becoming a reality.
“It’s been great to the see the plans receive such an overwhelmingly positive response. The project is the heartbeat of our plans to attract new visitors, residents, businesses and jobs into Shrewsbury, and growing the county’s economy.
“Although this specific application relates to the proposed public park on Roushill, it was great to start conversations about the wider masterplan in general and future phases. We appreciate that there is a clear desire from the public to understand how public transport and car travel will change over the coming years in-and-around the town centre. These early conversations will serve us well as we enter formal public consultation on the Movement Strategy in 2024.”
The first Smithfield Riverside public consultation, which ran for four weeks across October and November 2023, saw around 15,000 people engage online, 500 in-person engagements and over 400 people left direct feedback.
The overall public and stakeholder response to the plans has been positive, with the plans for the park receiving 75% support and the wider masterplan vision receiving 73% support.
The feedback has helped fine tune the proposals for the Roushill Park, including:
- Making play elements more robust and natural in appearance.
- Introducing solid and sculptural play features rather than traditional children’s play equipment.
- Play equipment that is tough enough to withstand with flooding and clean-ups and still look good and work well.
- A design ethos that ties back to the geology and archaeology of the site. For example, designing in more rain gardens to ensure that the park can play a meaningful role in sustainable drainage and flood management.
Spencer Winter, RivingtonHark’s project director, commented:
“This planning submission is an important first step in making Smithfield Riverside a reality. The plans will truly unlock the development potential of this area of the town centre, as well as deliver a world class new public space.
“It’s been great to view the positive comments on the proposals and see that the majority of the public and regional stakeholders are aligned with our thinking, and we’re all pulling in the same direction. The comments and opinions we received have helped influence and shape today’s application.”
The first Smithfield Riverside planning application (23/05402/FUL) is now available on the council’s planning portal and a decision will be made at a Local Planning Authority committee meeting in early 2024.
Fronted by Shropshire Council, Smithfield Riverside is being supported by an expert team of property and regeneration specialists, including RivingtonHark, FaulknerBrowns Architects, Spacehub Landscape Architects, Arup and Counter Context.